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Low visitation levels see closure of Malaysia’s Hello Kitty theme park

Low visitation levels see closure of Malaysia’s Hello Kitty theme park
October 16, 2019

The Government of the Malaysian state of Johor has advised that the Hello Kitty theme park - based on a fictional Japanese character - is to close as a result of lower than projected visitation.

Opened in 2012, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town, which is owned by a subsidiary of Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, will cease operations as of 31st December.

With Johor having promoted itself as an attractions destination with a range of new tourism developments, the Johor Government is confident the closure will be unlikely to have a major impact on the state's tourist arrivals.

Speaking to the Malay Mail, Liow Cai Tung, Chair of the State Tourism, Women, Family and Community Development Committee, stated “I believe it (the closure) will only have a small impact on the Visit Johor Year 2020 campaign and will not affect overall tourist arrivals to the state.

“The state government does not depend on one particular type of tourism product.

“Besides that, Johor is also promoting eco-tourism as well as nature-based tourism and medical tourism.”

With reports that Khazanah is also considering selling Johor’s Legoland located in the Johor state, Legoland Malaysia - which is operated by Merlin Entertainments plc - said in February it was looking at India and the Middle East as potential growth markets to drive visitation.

Currently, its top markets after Malaysia are Singapore, China, Indonesia, Australia, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea.

A Legoland Malaysia spokesperson advised that the theme and water park still intends to support Johor in becoming one of the top holiday destinations amid the incoming Visit Johor Year 2020 and Visit Malaysia 2020 campaigns.

The spokesperson told The Malaysian Reserve “we will continue to invest in our park facilities to provide the best international theme park experience at the best value.

“Our recent milestone of launching Sea Life Malaysia is also proof of our commitment to support Johor to become one of the top holiday destinations.”

Khazanah owns three theme parks in Johor - Legoland Malaysia, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and Thomas Town - through its leisure and tourism arm, Themed Attractions Resorts and Hotels Sdn Bhd.

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23rd May 2019 - Attendance at the world’s themed attractions exceeds half a billion visits for the first time in history

11th August 2018 - Dreamworks attraction cancelled at Malaysia’s Movie Animation Park Studios

5th February 2018 - Legoland Malaysia to expand with new Sea Life Aquarium

30th June 2017 - Movie Animation Park Studios opens in Malaysia

25th March 2017 - Malaysia sets out credentials as South East Asia’s theme park capital

17th August 2015 - Malaysian attractions operator prepares stock market listing

29th July 2015 - Malaysia named top global tourism destination for Muslims

21st October 2013 - Legoland Malaysia opens new water park

2nd November 2012 - Putreri Harbour family theme park opens

21st August 2012 - Johor set to be Malaysia’s theme park capital

5th October 2012 - Leisure set to transform Johor into Malaysia’s richest state

14th June 2011 - Children the focus of attractions development in Malaysia

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