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JOHOR Baru has proven itself as a capable host in organising global events, as well as a perfect destination for meetings, incentives, conventions and expo.
The city welcomed 2,100 delegates to the 8th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) which was held from Dec 4 to 6.
It was a major world class event, and the organiser put in a lot of effort to make it a success. The delegates, who were treated to dinner in Kota Iskandar, were impressed by this "Putrajaya of Johor".
Kuala Lumpur, with its numerous world-class convention centres, has been the host city for many international events. Singapore has also been a popular choice.
In the past, Johor Baru was unlikely to be the choice of organisers of global events.
So when it became known, early this year, that JB would be the venue to hold the WIEF, some were in a state of disbelief while other were overjoyed.
Johor Baru was always left out in the past because it could not offer what KL could.
Organisers consider many variables before choosing a city to host their events. These include the standard of the convention centres, hotels, aviation links and pricing.
When an event is held in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru does not benefit from it because of the distance.
But, if it is held in Singapore, Johor Baru may enjoy some spillovers in its tourism-related sectors.
Obviously, it is better for the city to organise events of its own, rather than enjoy the crumbs left over from events held in other places.
Johor has several convention centres of varying sizes and standards.
It has several star-rated hotels too, and an airport which connects to Kuala Lumpur International Airport and other domestic airports.
In terms of pricing, it is much lower than Kuala Lumpur, and just a fraction of the price in Singapore.
Holding the WIEF in Johor Baru was certainly a first step in the right direction for Iskandar Malaysia to project itself as a global economic region.
Delegates must be impressed by what the city has to offer, as well as the well-developed infrastructures in the growth region.
At least, they know now there is a city in the south of Malaysia called Johor Baru.
For those who are extending their stay after the forum, the city also has many world-class tourism products.
Among them are the Legoland Theme Park and the Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park which comprises the Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and the Little Big Club.
Johor Premium Outlets is a great attraction for those who prefer retail therapy.
Of course, the delegates can also do a lot of sightseeing in the state, if they have the time.
This is the benefit of hosting an event in Johor Baru, the southern gateway to Malaysia.
Many in the retail sector will enjoy the spillover.
Let's hope many more international events will be held here.