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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Strategy to turn Iskandar into tourism hotspot

ISKANDAR Investment Bhd (IIB), which coordinates the development of Iskandar Malaysia in Johor, aims to transform Medini into a world-class integrated tourism destination by setting up more theme parks and hotels for holiday-makers.

Part of the overall tourism strategy for Iskandar Malaysia, in which Medini is located, has been to develop a multi-park destination containing a number of complementary international theme parks.

Managing director Arlida Ariff said the strategy is designed to attract a large number of visitors to Iskandar, increase the visitor length of stay and spend per visitor.

She said IIB and Khazanah Nasional Bhd are committed to the strategy and have been in discussions with a number of theme park operators.

"We continue to maintain dialogues with the operators for potential opportunities to create complementary leisure and tourism destinations in Iskandar," she told Business Times.

The first of three major theme parks planned for Medini is Legoland Malaysia, also Asia's first.

A pact was reached with Merlin Entertainments Group to build the park for RM750 million.

Construction of the park, which Merlin will design and operate, will commence by March 2010.

Legoland Malaysia is the centrepiece of a RM3.5 billion integrated complex earmarked for completion by 2013. The complex will have a lifestyle retail centre, offices, hotels, serviced apartments and homes.

Arlida said apart from theme parks, there will be other attractions relating to arts and culture, adventure-eco tourism and golf-themed holidays, complemented with world-class entertainment, retail and restaurants.

"The idea is not to view tourism products in isolation but to see Iskandar as an integrated tourism site to encourage longer stay and repeat visits," she said.

Medini, which is Malaysia's single largest urban development to date, is expected to bring in a gross development value (GDV) in excess of US$20 billion (RM69.6 billion) over a period of 15 to 20 years.

The development is divided into three distinct clusters with separate themes, namely lifestyle and leisure, culture and heritage, and financial.

Medini Iskandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a public-private sector partnership between IIB and its consortium partners, Global Capital and Development Sdn Bhd and Cultural Cluster Sdn Bhd, is the project development vehicle for the clusters.

Global Capital comprises Mubadala Development Co, Aldar Properties PJSC and Millennium Development International.

Cultural Cluster is majority-owned by Al-Nibras 2 Ltd, a Labuan-based private fund company managed by Kuwait Finance House (Labuan) Bhd.

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)

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