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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Auto City seeks to become tourist landmark

Auto City plans to invest RM120 million in a bid to draw more tourists

PENANG: Auto City Group, the operator of Auto City in Juru plans to set up a hotel as well as meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) facilities besides constructing a shopping mall and a family park, all on a 5.67ha site adjoining Auto City.

Its managing director Gary Teoh said this is in line with the group's plans to expand its business activities to tap into the tourism industry in the near future.

Teoh said it was keen on positioning the company to cash in on the tourism industry on the mainland, as most of the state’s tourism products were located on the island.

“We plan to invest about RM120 million to set up the infrastructure, and hopefully, the project can take off by the third quarter of the year,” he told theSun.

“We decided to venture into the tourism industry because we hold a lot of concerts, promo tours and family events at the existing Auto City, which has since attracted a lot of local and foreign tourists to the area,” he said.

He added that Auto City had been endorsed by the state government as a tourist product, aimed at boosting the tourism industry in the Seberang Perai area on the mainland.

Auto City, located along the North South Highway is the first integrated development positioned for the automobile industry, and boasts showrooms housing high-end carmakers such as Porsche, Volvo, Mercedes, BMW and Ferrari.

Teoh also said it had earlier invested about RM30 million to develop a 4ha-site focused on food and beverage (F&B) as well as entertainment outlets.

He said that the concept of Auto City came about after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and after research in 2001, showed that the automobile industry was on an “up” trend.

“At that time the new concept of ‘showroom, service and spare parts centres’ (3S) was introduced to the Malaysian market and we felt that we were in a good position to capitalise on it,” Teoh said.

“However, we also wanted to include F&B outlets in Auto City to add lifestyle elements to the development,” he said, adding that the initial investment to set up its operations was RM30 million between 2003 and 2004.

To date, the entire development boasts more than 60,000sq ft of F&B outlets coupled with more than 120,000sq ft of car showroom space.

By theSun (by Jonathan Chen)

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