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Hopeful yet cautious: 3 M’sian tourist attractions on gearing up for borders reopening

Throughout the small windows of freedom between MCOs, cabin-fevered Malaysians have explored tourist attractions our country has to offer. The government was even encouraging it, what with the tax reliefs Malaysians were provided to cuti-cuti Malaysia from YA 2020 till now.

With Malaysia’s borders reopening on April 1, local leisure and amusement spots will soon see an influx of visitors from international travellers. Hence, Vulcan Post spoke to a handful of tourist attractions to learn about their expectations and how they’re bracing themselves for the projected crowds.

Forecasting interests

Prior to the lockdowns, i-City welcomed an average of 90K visitors per week at its park’s SnoWalk and the City of Digital Lights. Equivalent to receiving 5 million in footfall per year, 40% of them consisted of international tourists.

SnoWalk is a snowfall and indoor snow play area below 8 degrees Celsius / Image Credit: i-City

During the border closure however, i-City’s team claims that footfall in the final three quarters of 2020 saw an increase, if not outperforming the number of visitors compared to the same period in 2019. 

One of the reasons for this was due to i-City’s extended operational hours between 11AM to 11PM. Prior to the pandemic, its theme parks only opened at night. 

“This shows that the up [in] demand for travel brought new groups of local visitors to the theme park,” said Tang Soke Cheng, i-City’s Head of Leisure. “As such, with the [borders] opening, we are anticipating an additional 20% visitors from outside Malaysia.”

As international travellers are expected to come in soon, i-City plans to continue operating from 11AM to 11PM at 80% capacity upon the reopening of borders.

Executive Director of Sunway Theme Parks, Calvin Ho, predicts that the county’s long-awaited border reopening will boost the entirety of tourism and its downstream economy. 

“We hope that we’re able to rebound to 90% of our international tourists pre-pandemic for both [Sunway Lagoon and Sunway Lost World Of Tambun],” Calvin told Vulcan Post.

Sunway Lagoon is said to have the World’s Largest Vortex Ride / Image Credit: Sunway Theme Parks

On the other hand, Farm In The City, a petting zoo we’ve visited during the pandemic, remains cautious. As Malaysia’s daily COVID-19 case count is still concerning, Farm In The City’s team observed that the fear of travel remains.

“However, with the opening of the border, we hope that it will at least give us an incremental 10% to 20% of visitors to our farms. Not that it will go back to the way it was, but at least slowly we hope we can be there someday,” observed Jerry Ng, the farm’s Sales and Marking Manager.

When we spoke to i-City, we also managed to hear from Traveloka Malaysia’s Country Manager, Angelica Chan, on their industry overview. They’re hopeful about the demand rising from regional travellers, especially with the waiver 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, Malaysia’s borders reopening can feel like a fresh start. To captivate new visitors while also enticing frequenters, fresh and exciting features have been put in motion at the parks.

Sunway Lagoon has expanded its park to include a camping in the city experience called Camp Out!. Stationed in the middle of Sunway Lagoon, campers will have access to BBQ dinner, private pools, and the chance to sleep under the night sky for a night.

Camp Out! will be a new experience within Sunway Lagoon / Image Credit: Sunway Theme Parks

A little further up north in 400 million-year-old Ipoh limestone hills, Sunway’s Lost World Of Tambun is also anticipating visits from ecotourists. “During the previous lockdowns, we’ve taken the opportunity to refurbish and upgrade our rides and attractions with a total spend of RM5 million for both parks,” Calvin shared. “Every year, we add new attractions into each park and this year will be no exception.”

At Farm In The City, new animals have been brought in, continuously bolstering their award of “Most Animal Species in a Petting Zoo” from the Malaysia Book of Records. One of their newest members is a lemur, which Jerry said is “super cute” (and we’re inclined to agree).

Meet the new resident at the farm / Image Credit: Farm In The City

i-City will be increasing the number of edutainment workshops for children to learn something while they’re having fun. Furthermore, its City of Digital Lights and SnoWalk will be joining the trend to set up a metaverse experience, as we’ve 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 into this project that’s expected to be ready in 2023.

Spreading the word

In line with the digitalisation efforts the world has picked up to stay connected amidst lockdowns, leveraging tech solutions isn’t going anywhere as borders reopen.

On top of increasing digital marketing efforts, Farm In The City is once again working with travel agents to pull international travellers. 

Feeding the animals at the petting zoo / Image Credit: Farm In The City

Sunway Theme Parks introduced a new feature called STP Studios that goes live every Friday at 11AM. It’s a platform that combines social media and promotion to help users find informational content for education, entertainment, livestreams, giveaways, flash sales, and more. 

“This effort embraces a new approach with participants along with new ideas to reach out to our latest developments and trends,” explained Calvin. “This allows Sunway Theme Parks to have a better assessment of the needs and wants of visitors while gathering new ideas to be implemented.”

Although not an attraction itself, Traveloka Malaysia is also doing its part to bolster the tourism economy’s rebound. To help travellers discover deals, they created a landing page called “Malaysia Most Viral” highlighting popular attractions. The team are also working with their partners to enable the purchase of tickets to these attractions via the app. 

Bearing in mind the endemic situation, Traveloka’s app also provides frequent travel updates on COVID-19 Travel Safety Requirements. Details provided follow announcements made by governments of respective countries, tips to stay healthy and safe, as well as information on where to get COVID-19 tests. 

“We also provide easy rescheduling in the case of any eventualities, and many more,” added Angelica.

  • Read more articles we’ve written about tourism here.

Featured Image Credit: Sunway Lagoon / Farm In The City / i-City

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(UEN 201431998C.)

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