Iskandar Malaysia set to be Asia's gateway for tourists
JOHOR BARU: Iskandar Malaysia’s diverse landscape, coupled with some key iconic tourism projects that will be opened to the public shortly, is expected to further boost the region's economic growth and tourism industry, as a whole.
According to Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive Ismail Ibrahim, Iskandar Malaysia is poised to be Asia's gateway for tourists arriving in Malaysia and the Asean countries.
"With the participation of Cities and Corridors Lab by Pemandu and other state agencies, the target tourist numbers in Iskandar Malaysia are expected to hit seven million people per year by 2020," Ismail announced in a statement here today.
A tourist is defined here as a visitor who spends at least one night in the area, he explained, adding that IRDA is very excited to declare 2012/2013 as a banner year for Iskandar Malaysia.
According to Ismail, this declaration follows IRDA's focus on and facilitation of the opening of world-class, iconic tourist projects, including Legoland Malaysia, the Puteri Harbour Family Entertainment Center and Austin Heights Water Theme Park, to name a few.
In tandem with tourism development, Ismail added, the region will also be promoted as a shopper's haven, with the enhancement of existing shopping complexes and hotels and the introduction of new projects by the end of 2013.
"We are also pleased that Johor has increased its tourism product offerings, particularly with the new developments in the Mersing Laguna and Desaru beach tourism. We believe this will result in an Iskandar Malaysia tourism spillover effect and enhance the region’s economic vitality and excitement," he said.
It was recently reported that Johor was slated to become like Orlando, Florida, with at least 11 leisure attractions in the state, thus making it a major theme and amusement-park destination of Southeast Asia.
In addition to the new attractions, Ismail said, Iskandar Malaysia is already an area full of vibrancy and charm, given the rich heritage, art and culture that can be found in the Johor Baharu city centre.
Most notable of these, he added, is the Puteri Heritage Trail, which tempts the senses by offering an exquisite experience of old coffee shops and charcoal-oven bakeries, in addition to the souvenir-laden Plaza Seni.
For the nature-loving eco-friendly tourist, Ismail pointed out, Iskandar Malaysia offers visits to the Ramsar site in Tanjung Piai, the southernmost tip of mainland Asia, and to the world's largest uninhabited mangrove island of Pulau Kukup.
"The truly iconic thing about Iskandar Malaysia is the entire experience of being in it. I urge everyone to invest in holidays to Iskandar Malaysia, for truly the time is here and now," said Ismail. -- BERNAMA