Tourism is a key driver to development and a major creator of jobs across national and regional economies, including spurring the growth of related sectors, such as retailing, hotel and resort operations, food manufacturing, construction and services. Tourism also are the direct foreign currency earner and contributor.
Services sector is identified as the fastest growing industry over the next 20 years in Iskandar Malaysia. Services industry is expected to contribute from 50% in 2005 to 57% in 2025 of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Within services sector, tourism industry’s Gross Domestic Product GDP is expected to grow from 8% in 2005 to 12% in 2025 with average growth of 9.6% per annum and creation of 16,340 jobs. Most of the sub-sectors create significant employment opportunities, offering high value jobs such as hotel managers, food and beverage (F&B) service staff, tour managers and theme park managers.
Capitalising on global tourism trends, budget airlines and budget hotels mushrooming, andMalaysia’s tourism advantages, the government and private sector have jointly collaborated to accelerate the further development of Iskandar Malaysia’s tourism sector. Tourism Iskandar Malaysia focuses and reinforces the unique local characteristics and heritage features, and to preserve as well as enhance its natural environment for eco-tourism.
Seven areas have been identified by Iskandar Malaysia tourism:-
1. Theme Parks and Family Entertainment Centres
Malaysia first indoor family theme park, Sanrio Hello Kitty theme park and Legoland theme park, the Asia first Legoland theme park invested and completed at 2013. Both theme park have received break record of tourists arrival since its operation especially on the weekend and holiday seasons.
2. History, Heritage, Arts and Culture
Johor government has taken itegrated approach to develop and promote Johor’s rich history and culture. The iconic Sultan Ibrahim Building at Bukit Timbalan will be the focal point. Government also investing to redevelop Johor Bahru City centre into a new vibrant city centre with water canal built.
3. Eco-tourism and Homestays
Iskandar Malaysia has close to 2,000 hectares of national parks, forest reserves and wetland. The main promoted site is Ramsar Johor sites. Ramsar cover wetlands surrounding Sungai Pulai, Pulau Kukup and Tanjung Piai National Parks. Pulau Kukup is one of the largest uninhabited mangrove islands in the world. Homestays gained popularity among international visitors who want to experience local Johorean culture and customs at an affordable price.
4. Food, Dining and Shopping Attractions
Malaysia, comprising of 3 major ethnics Malay, Chinese, and India with few minors ethnics has rich of food varieties and famous to the world. Iskandar Malaysia taken advantages of its location near to Singapore, is a popular shopping and dining destination for tourists especially from Singapore. It offers more a more affordable range of goods and services as well as wide variety of culinary selections.
5. Outdoor activities, Events and Recreational Tourism
There are 15 established golf courses available within Iskandar Malaysia. Johor Motorsport Circuit is available for car and motor racing enthusiasts. There are also events like Johor International Kite Festival, Iskandar Malaysia Rugby Challenge and World Marching Band competition yearly.
6. Health and Wellness Tourism
The health and wellness tourism sector is poised to experience high growth because of the increasing demand for more specialized treatments and sophisticated medical facilities. The new upcoming medical center in Iskandar Malaysia are Regency Specialist Hospital, Columbia Asia Hospital, AFIAT Healthpark, and development of a wellness township.
7. MICE and Accommodation
MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) in Johor, currently caters largely to the national events market segment, with conference packages offered by city hotels. Persada Johor and Danga Bay Convention Centre are among the major purpose-built MICE convention centers.
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