Asia has seen a burgeoning of theme-based attractions in the region and the industry has been a positive contributor to the economy.
In Malaysia, local entities have proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with even in the international market.
A recent report by CNN stated that Malaysia is fast becoming the “theme park capital of Southeast Asia”, with 16 properties spread around the country with at least 10 more slated for opening in the next few years, contributing immensely towards strengthening the Malaysian economy.
“There is no denying that theme parks have contributed a great deal, especially in Malaysia, towards the country’s economy.
“We have been seeing a year-on-year growth in visitor numbers, both local and foreign.
“We recorded one million visitors in 2014. Out of these visitors, about 60% were from overseas,” said Sunway Lagoon general manager Sean Choo.
The Sunway Group has been a pioneer in the theme park industry. Sprawling over 35.6ha, Sunway Lagoon has made a name for itself in the international arena.
Established in 1992, the property today is one of the largest theme parks in the country.
The Sunway Group has also gone on to set up The Lost World of Tambun in Ipoh, adding to its portfolio of themed attractions.
The importance of theme parks in contributing towards the nation’s economy increases as Malaysia becomes a progressively prominent services-exporting economy in the Southeast Asian region, with tourism being one of the country’s key service exports, opening the door for investments and the influx of foreign cash flow into the country.
“While international tourists make up the bulk of our visitor-base, there has also been a steady rise in local visitors as well.
“Especially with the recent weakening of the ringgit, we see more local visitors choosing to go on holidays within the country.
“In this regard, we also encourage domestic visitors by organising special fares for Malaysians and offering other attractive perks,” Choo said.
However, the emergence of foreign players in the local Malaysian market necessitates the need for local developers to raise their game to maintain a competitive edge.
“While competition is one thing, consumers are also becoming more discerning and astute.
“That is why we constantly need to ‘raise the bar’ by creating new attractions and coming up with innovative new ideas. For example, just a couple of years ago, we introduced the Vuvuzela – the largest water-based ride in the world and the Waterplexx 5D which was another ‘first’ in Malaysia.
“Innovating and expanding are part and parcel of our operations and will continue to be in future,” he said.
Sunway Lagoon has also expanded its business by teaming up with event organisers to use the theme park as a venue for events such as the MTV World Stage concert and a variety of other acts.
Choo said that the expansions of theme parks would continue to help the economy by creating new jobs, while increasing the demand for skilled and trained personnel. Sunway Lagoon boasts a workforce of more than 400 people.