Throughout the small windows of freedom between MCOs, feverish Malaysians have been exploring the tourist attractions our country has to offer. The government was even encouraging it, with the tax breaks that Malaysians have given cuti-cuti Malaysia from YA 2020 till now.
With Malaysia’s borders reopening on April 1, local leisure and entertainment venues will soon see an influx of visitors from international travelers. Therefore, Vulcan Post spoke to a handful of tourist attractions to find out their expectations and how they are preparing for projected crowds.
Prior to the closures, i-City averaged 90,000 visitors per week to its park’s SnoWalk and City of Digital Lights. That is 5 million visitors per year, 40% of whom are international tourists.
During the border closure however, the i-City team says attendance in the last three quarters of 2020 has seen an increase, if not an outperformance, in visitor numbers compared to the same period in 2019.
One of the reasons for this was due to i-City’s extended opening hours between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Before the pandemic, its theme parks only opened at night.
“This shows that the rise [in] travel demand has brought new groups of local visitors to the theme park,” said Tang Soke Cheng, recreation manager at i-City. “So with the [borders] opening, we expect 20% more visitors from outside Malaysia.
As international travelers are expected to arrive soon, i-City plans to continue operating from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at 80% capacity as borders reopen.
Sunway Theme Parks Executive Director Calvin Ho predicts the long-awaited reopening of county borders will boost overall tourism and its downstream economy.
“We hope we can rebound to 90% of our international tourists before the pandemic for both [Sunway Lagoon and Sunway Lost World Of Tambun]“Calvin told Vulcan Post.
In contrast, Farm In The City, a petting zoo we visited during the pandemic, remains cautious. While the daily number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia is still concerning, the Farm In The City team observed that the fear of travel remains.
“However, with the opening of the border, we hope that it will bring us at least 10 to 20% more visitors to our farms. Not that it will go back to how it was, but at least slowly, we hope to be there one day,” observed Jerry Ng, farm sales and branding manager.
When we spoke to i-City, we also managed to hear Traveloka Malaysia Country Manager Angelica Chan on their industry insight. They hope demand will increase from regional travellers, especially with the lifting of quarantine for vaccinated travellers. To back this up, she shared that Traveloka Malaysia’s app is already seeing a 25% increase in traffic.
New sights to see
For these attractions, the reopening of Malaysia’s borders may seem like a fresh start. To captivate new visitors while attracting regulars, new and exciting features have been implemented in the parks.
Sunway Lagoon has expanded its park to include an in-town camping experience called Camp Out!. Stationed in the middle of Sunway Lagoon, campers will have access to a BBQ dinner, private pools, and the chance to sleep under the night sky for a night.
A little further north, in the 400 million year old limestone hills of Ipoh, Sunway’s Lost World Of Tambun also anticipates visits from ecotourists. “In previous closures, we have taken the opportunity to refurbish and upgrade our rides and attractions with a total outlay of RM5 million for the two parks,” Calvin explained. “Each year we add new attractions to each park and this year will be no exception.”
At Farm In The City, new animals have been introduced, continually bolstering their Malaysian Book of Records “Most Animal Species in a Petting Zoo” award. One of their newest members is a lemur, which Jerry called “super cute” (and we’re inclined to agree).
i-City will increase the number of edutainment workshops so that children learn something while having fun. Additionally, its City of Digital Lights and SnoWalk will join the trend of setting up a metaverse experience, as we previously reported.
Details of the project are still being kept under wraps, but what we do know is that i-City will be investing a total of RM10 million in this project which is expected to be ready in 2023.
spread the word
In line with the digitization efforts the world has made to stay connected despite lockdowns, harnessing technological solutions leads nowhere to reopening borders.
In addition to ramping up its digital marketing efforts, Farm In The City is again working with travel agents to attract international travellers.
Sunway Theme Parks has introduced a new feature called STP Studios which goes live every Friday at 11am. It is a platform that combines social media and promotion to help users find informative content for education, entertainment, live streams, giveaways, flash sales, and more.
“This effort encompasses a fresh approach with participants as well as new ideas to reach our latest developments and trends,” Calvin explained. “This allows Sunway Theme Parks to have a better assessment of visitor needs and wants while gathering new ideas to implement.”
Although not an attraction in itself, Traveloka Malaysia is also doing its part to support the rebound in the tourism economy. To help travelers discover the deals, they’ve created a landing page titled “Most Viral Malaysia” highlighting popular attractions. The team is also working with its partners to allow tickets for these attractions to be purchased through the app.
Keeping the rampant situation in mind, Traveloka’s app also provides frequent updates on COVID-19 travel safety requirements. The details provided follow announcements made by the governments of the respective countries, advice on staying healthy and safe, as well as information on where to get COVID-19 tests.
“We also provide easy rescheduling for contingencies, and many more,” Angelica added.
- Read more articles we’ve written about tourism here.
Featured Image Credit: Sunway Lagoon / Farm in the City / i-City