Capital investments

Kuala Lumpur puts plans into action to woo more luxury MICE groups. By S Puvaneswary

  10/02/2010 08:43
Arrivals  Despite the global economic downturn in 2009 and the negative impact of the A/H1N1 scare on travel, Malaysia’s tourism industry remained healthy.

The country recorded 23.65 million tourist arrivals last year, a significant increase of 7.2 per cent compared to 22.05 million in 2008, way above the target of 19 million visitors set by the government.

Given this surprise showing, the forecast for 2010, originally set at 23 million tourists spending a total of RM52 billion (US$15.3 billion) was being revised at press time.

NTO As part of efforts to boost international MICE events in the capital, City Hall introduced incentive packages in October 2009 for MICE organisers who bring a minimum of 500 foreign delegates to the city.

MICE organisers are entitled to an official letter of invitation from the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur to support the bidding process for international events, fee waiver for up to 100 lamp post buntings, fee waiver for a temporary outdoor billboard (subject to availability), a free cultural troupe performance and free promotion of the event on City Hall’s new Visit-KL website (, which was also launched last October. The website provides information to tourists on tourism-related events in the city, places to shop, dine and stay.

In addition, City Hall will work with tourist attractions to offer special discounted rates for international and local event delegates and their spouses.

Access  On January 1, Malaysia Airports Holdings launched an incentive scheme to encourage more international airlines to fly to the country’s three main airports – Kuala Lumpur International Airport, low-cost terminal LCCT-KLIA and Sultan Ahmad Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Selangor.

Running for three years, the scheme gives new airlines an incentive of RM10 for each inbound international passenger flown in during the airline’s first year of operations in Malaysia, said the company’s managing director Bashir Ahmad.

Meanwhile, longhaul low-cost carrier, AirAsia X, will take delivery of four new A330 aircraft this year. The new aircraft will allow the airline to increase frequencies from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne, Hangzhou and the Gold Coast this year. Also in its 2010 agenda are new services to Delhi, Mumbai, Sydney, Haneda and New York or New Jersey.

Sister airline AirAsia plans to add flights to Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Chennai and Bali.

Hotels  More luxury properties will open in the capital over the next few years, namely Raffles Kuala Lumpur in 2011, Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur and Four Seasons Hotel & Serviced Apartments, both in 2012, and St Regis Kuala Lumpur in 2014.

Lee Choon Loong, president and CEO of DiscoveryMICE, said more rooms in the high-end luxury category would allow the country to attract more high-end incentives. “The competition will also ensure that rates are competitive. Currently, we only have Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur and Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur in the high-end luxury segment.”

Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel director of sales, Andy Muniandy, however believed the city could use more three-star hotels in Jalan Bukit Bintang for tourists. At present, the area only has two such properties, namely the Radius International Kuala Lumpur and Hotel Capitol Kuala Lumpur.

Opening in the capital this year are the Ibis Kuala Lumpur, Royal Bintang Surian Petaling Jaya, Doubletree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur City Centre and Rendezvous Kuala Lumpur.

Rates  Most hotels in the capital have maintained the same contract rates as last year.

On top of this, they have also waived surcharges during the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix season in early April and the Middle East season this year, said Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel contract & e-commerce executive Ahmad Fauzi.

He noted that they used to impose a surcharge ranging from RM30 to RM60 a night and waive it at the 11th hour to fill up their rooms. However, this year, the surcharge has been waived outright.

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