REPORT OF BUSINESS NEWS FROM TTG ASIA
|Reaching for the sky|
The Stadthuys, Malacca
Picture by Tourism Malaysia
Malacca ponders setting up its own airline to lift tourism numbers.
By S Puvaneswary
Arrivals Malacca is gearing up to attract at least 8.2 million visitors who are projected to spend an estimated RM5 billion (US$1.52 billion) this year. This is one million more than the 7.2 million tourists who spent an estimated RM4.5 billion in 2009.
Up until March, Malacca had welcomed 807,270 tourists. Of this figure, 183,810, or 22.8 per cent, were foreigners. This marked an 11.7 per cent increase in total tourist arrivals compared to the same period in 2009, when 722,467 tourists, of which 108,987 or 15.1 per cent were foreigners, visited the state.
Most arrivals in the first quarter were from Singapore (35,379), China (29,184), Indonesia (24,661), Hong Kong (7,743) and Japan (6,353).
The state government would promote Malacca through cultural performances and local food fairs, said the division’s general manager Nazary Ahmad. Malacca collaterals are also on display at the Malaysia pavilion of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.
Regionally, the state made its presence felt at the Sriwijaya Expo 2010 in Indonesia from June 16 to 23. It also participates in the two annual NATAS consumer fairs in Singapore.
The Tourism Promotion Division continues to promote Malacca City as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and supports the efforts of the Malaysian and Indonesian consortium of travel agents who are promoting UNESCO World Heritage sites Borobudur, Malacca and Penang under one package.
Hotels A new, no-frills, boutique hotel with 22 rooms, hangout@jonker, is set to open this month at tourist haunt, Jonker Street.
Another boutique hotel, Casa Del Mar, is scheduled to open on September 1, with 66 rooms and 32 residential apartments. Located on the northern bank of the Malacca River, each fully furnished apartment will include access to a swimming pool, private garden and balcony.
Local property developer Hatten Group is constructing Hatten Square Suites and Shoppes, a commercial project comprising a four-star hotel with 260 rooms above a 200-unit retail mall. It is set to rise in the heart of the Malacca World Heritage City, only a stone’s throw away from the commercial area of Melaka Raya. The project is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2011.
Airlines Early this year, the Malacca International Airport completed an RM131 million project to extend the runway along with other upgrades to enable it to accommodate B737 and A320 aircraft. Previously, only Fokker 50 planes could land at the airport.
From a passenger capacity of 750,000, the airport can now handle 1.5 million passengers annually. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak opened the renovated airport on February 4.
The airport is presently still not operating at full capacity, only servicing Riau Airlines, which operates five weekly flights from Pekanbaru in Sumatra.
At press time, the state government was conducting a study on the feasibility of forming its own airline. Malacca chief minister Mohd Ali Rustam said the state was looking into tentatively putting up Malacca Airlines, with chartered and scheduled flights to possibly concentrate on destinations in Sumatra.
Products Melaka Duck Tours started offering land and sea tours in January. The hour-long tour starts and ends in front of the 110m viewing tower known as the Menara Taming Sari (Taming Sari Tower) on Merdeka Road.
Also covered by the tour are the Mahkota Parade shopping mall, the floating mosque on Malacca Island, the Straits of Malacca, Malacca Marina and Malacca River.
“You can experience the thrill of water and land and really see the old and new parts of Malacca. The amphibian vehicle is also the first of its kind in the country, and that by itself is a novelty,” said OY Jason, Columbia Leisure’s managing director.
Another upcoming attraction is Arab City, an integrated commercial project featuring Arab architecture. It will open this December on a 1.68-hectare site on Malacca Island.