JOHOR is on the hunt for hotel investors, as it prepares to set up a state convention bureau in 2016 to bring more business events to the southern-most state of Peninsular Malaysia.
Backed by the Johor state government, Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) and Johor Department of Tourism, a working committee was recently formed, comprising members from the private and public sector, to hammer out the details of the new CVB.
Ismail Ibrahim, chief executive, IRDA, said the state is concurrently developing hardware in order to attract more business events. Hotel inventory in Iskandar Malaysia, which is being developed as a metropolis three times the size of Singapore, is expected to increase to 6,600 rooms by end-2015, from around 5,000 rooms now. The state of Johor has about 17,000 rooms.
Ismail added: “Currently, we have a main convention centre known as Persada Johor International Convention Centre in Johor Bahru (capital of Johor) that can accommodate a maximum of 4,000 delegates. We have projected that we will need another three to four convention centres – in Nusajaya, Pasir Gudang and Senai.”
Ismail and his team from IRDA are at PATA Travel Mart to network and attract private investors. Current incentives for the development of three- to five-star hotels are 10-year tax holidays, but additional incentives can be considered on a case-to-case basis.
Ganneesh Ramaa, manager, Luxury Tours Malaysia, said the new set-up would help attract more MICE visitors to the state, which in turn would create business opportunities for suppliers. He added: “To attract more business events, there must also be convention centres that can accommodate group sizes of 5,000 to 6,000 pax and are professionally run.”
Johor will be the third secondary destination in Malaysia to have a CVB, after Sarawak in East Malaysia and Penang in the north, which is in the midst of setting up the Penang International Convention and Exhibition Bureau (PICEB). PICEB is likely to be up and running in early 2015.