Our friends at ParkDB recently released the first of a series of country-specific Attractions Benchmark Reports. This one is for Malaysia in collaboration with MAATFA. To download the full report click here.
And now here are our thoughts on the Malaysian attractions industry.
By 2018 Malaysia will count 3 world-class internationally branded theme parks along its North-South corridor, from Johor Bahru to Ipoh, providing the destination with great tools to strengthen its positioning as Asia’s preferred family holiday destination, which will hopefully result in an increase in length-of-stay and repeat visitors. This is a great achievement and contribution from our industry, which we should be proud of.
With both LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort and the newly opened Movie Animation Park Studios, Malaysia is spearheading a new model of theme park development through partnerships between experienced private investors and/or operators and state-owned companies, which departs from the other model of private developers building theme parks in exchange for government favors or land, which is increasingly showing limitations in terms of sustainability.
Furthermore, with Sunway Lagoon’s recent extension (Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon) and the new RM200million+ water park under development in Desaru Coast, Malaysia will be home of two of the best water parks in the region, therefore competing with Thailand, which has seen the recent addition of great products e.g. Ramayana, Black Mountain and Vana Nava water parks.
Beyond theme parks and water parks we see a huge potential for indoor attractions with hundreds of malls across the country crying for a new generation of lifestyle & entertainment anchors to save them from increased competition and online retail. Maybe this is an opportunity for Malaysia to develop a unique exportable know-how with support from the government? After all Malaysia led the way for theme park (Sunway, TAR) and shopping mall (Sunway, IGB, Pavilion) development in the region. It’s time to be regional champions again.
We need to look at a new generation of indoor attractions different from traditional FEC’s or indoor theme parks, such as Berjaya Times Square Theme Park, and more adapted to new trends such as active play (e.g. District 21), edutainment (e.g. KidZania, Petrosains, Aquaria, Entopia), lifestyle-driven (e.g. The Top) and IP-based (e.g. Angry Birds Activity Park, Thomas Town, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town). But we should always be careful to build the right product for the right audience and in the right location. If all projects announced or rumored get developed, Malaysian malls will offer lots of exciting new indoor entertainment concepts including wind tunnel, wave house, indoor skiing, VR theme park, RDE (Retail Dining Entertainment) and fun museums.
Now, as mentioned above the role of government in regulating, guiding, supporting and funding our industry is critical for its sustainability and long-term impact on the country’s economy. This is why we believe government should increase the Tourism Development Infrastructure Fund available for our industry, attract more talents, suppliers and investors through incentives and special programs, and reconsider its proposed entertainment tax, which goes against all required support.