Friday, 5 October 2012


Just weeks following the opening of Asia's first Legoland in Nusajaya here, local taxi and restaurant operators are pretty excited over the prospects of higher incomes and revenue from the expected rise in tourist arrivals, which will ultimately boost Johor's economy.

Since it opened its doors on Sept 15, Legoland, a project under Iskandar Malaysia's development, has attracted more than 10,000 visitors. Iskandar Malaysia has been mapped out by Khazanah Nasional Berhad to help transform Johor into a major economic hub.

According to the President of the Johor Baharu-Singapore Taxi Owners Association, Wahab Hashim, the opening of Legoland Malaysia "means that there will be more trips to ferry passengers between the Causeway as the theme park is also a major attraction to Singaporeans."

"I believe there will be more business for us with Legoland. It will only increase the welfare and well-being of taxi drivers over the long term," he said.

Wahab said the opening of a new township at Iskandar Malaysia also meant that local and foreign tourists would not bypass Johor Baharu but spend more time and money in the state capital and its surrounding areas, thus boosting the local economy.

"Previously, Johor Baharu served as a transit point and taxis were mainly commuting within the area, But now Johor Baharu has expanded and visitors are talking about going to Kulai, to Nusajaya, to Pasir Gudang. Can you imagine what it means to us as taxi operators?" he asked.

Wahab thanked the government for developing Iskandar Malaysia as there would be more tourists visiting the southern development corridor, which would also benefit the socio-economy of the surrounding towns.

More than 100 Johor taxi drivers who had been selected to serve as "ambassadors" for Johor's tourist attractions were given a sneak preview of Legoland's attractions before its opening, said Johor Tourism, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman, Datuk Hoo Seong Chang, adding that it was important that they were aware of the state's latest tourist attraction.

Another taxi driver in Johor Baharu, who did not want to be named, concurred with Wahab that there would be higher frequencies in taxi services to and fro Legoland as the bulk of tourists would opt for an overnight stay in Johor Baharu, which was a mere 15 minute drive to Nusajaya.

"There will also be higher demand for taxi service within JB going to places such as Holiday Plaza Mall, to Danga Bay, to pasar malams, the museum and so on," he said, adding that many passengers he had been ferrying of late had been talking enthusiastically about their Legoland experiences.

He noted that taxi drivers no longer had to wait for the long school holidays or festive seasons to earn more as Legoland had shown prospects of being able to attract holidaymakers all-year-round.

Echoing this view, Dev Singh, General Manager of M Suites Hotel, here said the pace of tourism activity in Johor Baharu had picked up in the last two to three years.

Last year, Johor was among five states with significant increases in tourists, as it reported a surge to 4.321 million tourists from 3.310 million tourists in 2010. It aims to attract five million tourists next year.

"In the past, many Singaporeans would by-pass JB and go to Melaka or Kuala Lumpur for their weekend shopping or leisure activities.

"But with the opening of Legoland, it is a different story now as tourists are eager to visit JB. Many hotels in JB are doing good business and reporting high occupancy rates now," he said.

A chef, who goes by the surname Wong, at the Grand Bayview Seafood Restaurant in Danga Bay, said the opening of Legoland as well as other projects at Iskandar Malaysia had triggered a steady flow of diners to food outlets in Johor Baharu.

"More tourists mean more business for our restaurants. Prior to Legoland, we were busy mostly on weekends. But we are beginning to have more people dining at our restaurants even on weekdays following Legoland's opening," he said, noting that Singaporeans accounted for about 50 to 60 per cent of his business.

He was confident that restaurants here, which had also started to have more promotions to cash in on the tourist upswing, would generally do well from now on because there were more things to see and do in Johor to make visitors stay longer.


1 comment:

  1. legoland malaysia is not only a fun place but a place to relax, comfort from stress to live happily (either just for some moments).

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    However legoland malaysia location and
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    cheers :)