JOHOR BAHARU, Aug 20 (Bernama) -- Johor is poised to become Malaysia's 'Theme Park Capital' when Asia's first Legoland theme park at Nusajaya is open to the public next month.
This will signify the emergence of Iskandar Malaysia and Johor as a major tourist destination of the country and region.
Following the opening of the RM750 million Legoland, Iskandar Malaysia will receive another attraction with the opening of a family theme park in Puteri Harbour in November.
The two international standard theme parks will be major attractions to millions of domestic and foreign tourists planning to visit Iskandar Malaysia and Johor.
According to Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, Iskandar Malaysia could realise its huge potential in the tourism sector through the implementation of several infrastructural projects.
"We believe Iskandar Malaysia will provide the perfect tourist destination for affordable leisure at competitive prices in the South East Asian region and Asia Pacific," he said.
He was speaking at a briefing on the Puteri Harbour family theme park by Khazanah Nasional subsidiary, Themed Attractions and Resort (TAR) Sdn Bhd recently.
The Puteri Harbour family theme park, located in Nusajaya and built at a cost of RM115 million, will feature popular animation characters such as Hello Kitty, Bob The Builder, Angelina Ballerina, Pingu and Thomas And Friends.
It will also house 'Lat's Place', Malaysia's first restaurant of the nation's favourite cartoonist Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid, better known as Lat.
Apart from the two family theme parks, TAR is also planning to open two more international standard theme parks at the Desaru holiday resort in East Johor.
The two parks in Desaru -- Ocean Splash and Ocean Quest -- will be built by TAR at a cost of RM267 million and are expected to be completed and open to the public by mid-2014.
The opening of Legoland, Puteri Harbour, Ocean Quest and Ocean Splash in the near future in Johor, at a total cost of RM1 billion will propel the Johor tourism sector to a completely new level.
In fact, tourism industry observers have labelled Johor as the 'Theme Park Capital of Malaysia', following the launch of one theme park after another in the southern state.
Iskandar Malaysia, according to Ismail, is always working towards attracting more park operators to operate in the special economic zone to add to the existing theme parks.
"Irda is always on the lookout to have more theme parks in Iskandar Malaysia and beyond, which can cater to family-type entertainment and education," he told reporters.
The development of theme parks is not only confined to Iskandar Malaysia and Desaru, as under the Mersing Laguna project valued at RM22 billion, plans are underway for several more international theme parks.