Friday, 30 June 2017

(NST) Preferred destination: MICE sector grows by leaps and bounds

THERE is a build-up of convention centres and exhibition halls in Malaysia as the country shapes up to provide better venues for MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions), concerts and sporting events.

Malaysia Major Events (MME) general manager Tony Nagamaiah said MICE groups are a top priority in Malaysia, which is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia.

One of the biggest convention centres is the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, located in the city centre next to the Petronas Twin Towers.

Opened in 2005, it offers more than 74,000 sq ft of flexible function space, including 40,000-plus sq ft of exhibition space, 3,000-person capacity Plenary Hall and a grand ballroom for 2,000 guests.

The centre is undergoing expansion which will be completed by next year, adding another 32,800 sq ft of flexible space to the facility. Other major venues for events include the Matrade Exhibition & Convention Centre, the Putra World Trade Centre, Putrajaya International Convention Centre, Persada Johor International Convention Centre and Penang’s Straits Quay Convention Centre.

The Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC), with one million sq ft exhibition space built by Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd, will open soon.

Nagamaiah said Malaysia has improved by leaps and bounds in the MICE business and sporting events, positioning itself as a preferred destination in the Asian region.

This year, Malaysia will play host to the SEA Games and the Asean Para Games at the Bukit Jalil KL Sports City, which is currently being rejuvenated by Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd.

According to a Bernama report, the first phase of the rejuvenation work is 98 per cent completed.

“Malaysia is very active in sporting events. When it comes to meetings and conferences, Malaysia is very strong in the medical aspect. We have been hosting a lot of medical conferences with people attending from around the world.

“For incentives, the biggest business comes from China, followed by India and South Korea. Incentive groups can range from 1,000 to 50,000 people and this is big business for the services industry,” he told NST Property.

Nagamaiah said exhibition is a growing market but stressed that Malaysia is loosing out to neighbouring countries, especially Thailand which has a huge manufacturing hub.

Nevertheless, Malaysia is a preferred destination when it comes to hosting exhibitions on health, beauty, jewellery, railway and LIMA (Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition), he said.

“The main reason why we are loosing out is because of exhibition space. Our existing convention centres and exhibition halls are not big enough.

“At the KL Convention Centre, you can move in trucks but for heavy duty vehicles, you need one floor space. We will be able to target more exhibitions provided there is a bigger space,” he said.

Nagamaiah said with MITECH, Malaysia will be able to target more exhibitions and other major events.

MME, set up in 2010, is a division of Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCeb), an agency under the Tourism and Culture Ministry.

It focuses on identifying and supporting major event bids for sports, arts, lifestyle and entertainment, as well as assisting home-grown events.

According to MyCeb, Malaysia played host to 65 associations and conventions, 28 exhibitions and 283 corporate meeting and incentive groups last year.

Nagamaiah said Malaysia is on the right track to drive positive momentum for the business events industry.

“We are bidding to host international events, ranging from sports to entertainment. Because of the current economic slowdown in world markets, the MICE business has reduced a little, so we are focusing in other areas where there is growth,” he said.

(NST) Financial developments: Firms build indoor arenas to boost revenues

DEVELOPERS like SP Setia Bhd, IJM Land Bhd and BBCC Development Sdn Bhd are creating multi-purpose indoor arenas to spice up their development and generate new business.

Genting Group is also expanding its Genting Arena of Stars at the Genting Highland hill resort to capture more local and international business.

A multi-purpose indoor arena has many functions. It can be used for MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions), concerts, sporting and lifestyle events such as gala nights, weddings and wellness programmes.

SP Setia’s Setia SPICE (which is the abbreviation for Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre) Arena is the biggest multi-purpose indoor venue in Penang.

With its maximum capacity of 13,000 people, the arena is the epicentre for MICE.

Big Tree Event & Supplies founder Sunil Sachdev said Malaysia is experiencing steady growth in hosting business and lifestyle events, as well as international festivals, despite global challenges.

“Malaysia has fast emerged as one of the most preferred destination in Southeast Asia when it comes to MICE and lifestyle events. That is why you see convention centres and multi-purpose arenas mushrooming here.

“The country has everything you need for a successful event from well-developed infrastructure facilities including excellent connectivity via air, rail and road, extensive MICE expertise and venues with high-tech features.

“Destination weddings are another important market. We have enquiries from India, Jakarta and Thailand. They want us to find for them a suitable location here and turn it into a fairytale wedding. We have done destination weddings in Phuket, Bali and California so we know it is a big market,” he told NST Property.

Venue makeover

Sachdev said corporate events are changing just as much as special events from decor to food.

According to him, today’s organisations look for new and exciting experiences to create a lasting impression on attendees.

“The design concept encompasses more than simply filling a room with decor. Whether you’re planning a corporate event, meeting, wedding or other special event, the challenge lies in finding unique ways to impress guests,” he said.

Sachdev said to be in the forefront of the business, the company must stay relevant, and constantly deliver fresh and exciting ideas.

He added that his travels abroad has been his inspiration for new and exciting ideas.

Big Tree Event, which is based in Petaling Jaya, is a one-stop event service company where it organises and executes any and all types of events from venue procurement, production to entertainment.

It has grown consistently both horizontally as well as vertically since it started the business in 1998.

Sachdev said the key is delivering customised, cost-effective and long-term solutions to clients and in the process setting new benchmarks of excellence.

“This has been the company’s standard operating procedure. We have handled more than 500 private events of various magnitude and this is testimony to our excellence and exceeding expectations of our esteemed clients,” he said.

The company’s clients include corporate firms, NGOs, government agencies, government-linked companies, colleges, associations and couples ready to tie the note.

(NST) Luxury segment: Transactions tapering off

THERE is a slowdown in transactions for properties above the RM1 million mark in Malaysia and a greater cooling off in interest for those priced more than RM2 million, but this phenomenon is temporary.

PropertyGuru Malaysia country manager Sheldon Fernandez said the drop in property transactions was mainly due to consumers adopting a wait-and-see approach.

“Save for a few exceptions, during property downturn conditions, luxury properties are the first and most to be impacted.

“Buyers usually opt for more economical alternatives or just hold back till the market improves,” said Fernandez.

PropertyGuru considers properties priced at RM1.5 million and above as part of the luxury market category.

The PropertyGuru Market Index, which tracks the movement of home prices on a quarterly and yearly basis, showed prices in the luxury market category fell in the third and fourth quarters of last year.

However, Fernandez said the prices have since bounced back to the original position, even recording an increase in price in the first quarter of this year.

The index consists of sub-indices for the key property markets of Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Penang, as well as for property types (landed and high-rise homes).

“Overall, according to our observation, property supplies from the last quarter of 2016 to early this year in Kuala Lumpur have dropped by 21 per cent, while asking prices only went up by three per cent,” he said.

Moving forward for the luxury property segment, Fernandez said, developers would typically look to sell the lifestyle experience and the glamour factor, which is the prestige of the address and its future investment value as well as the proven track record of the developer.

“These are the strategies that will allow them to continue launching products in the market. There will also need to be a key distinguishing concept or factors like an eco-conscious development or award-winning master plan.”

Fernandez said projects such as YOO8 @ 8 Conlay had done fairly well despite the uncertainty in the property market.

YOO8 @ 8 Conlay is hailed as one of the most expensive properties in Kuala Lumpur.

Reaching an astonishing price of RM3,200 per sq ft, many are eagerly anticipating the outcome of this ambitious undertaking.

Pavilion Suites in Jalan Bukit Bintang is also doing well. This is a 51-storey serviced residence tower comprising 383 units.

The layout, ranging from 718 sq ft to 1,254 sq ft, is selling from RM2.5 million.

“The development offers the finest services that money can buy! It has a world-class couture concierge service that expands to providing private yacht, jet and limousine services upon request, as well as assistance in running daily errands and fulfilling housekeeping chores,” said Fernandez.

(NST) RedQ — a kaleidoscope of colours

RedQ, short for RedQuarters, is the new corporate base for AirAsia Group.

The six-storey building, which is replete with green features, is located adjacent to Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) in Sepang, Selangor.

It was designed by the VERITAS Design Group and has been operational since November.

RedQ comprises three floors of office space spread over 240,000 sq ft, and three levels of parking.

It was designed to create an environment to stimulate creativity and generate new ideas.

The building maximises space utilisation, creating collaborative nodes as well as providing contemplative and creative corners in a variety of layouts.

Concrete or cement flooring is the material of choice, bringing new life to the building.

The open office plan with exposed ceilings serves as a blank canvas to accentuate the colours and vibrancy of AirAsia’s corporate branding, imbuing the spaces with a kaleidoscope of colours.

The other highlight is the clerestory windows that can be seen at either side of the building’s roof, bringing in natural lighting and ventilation.

The items used in the design of RedQ are colourful, vibrant furniture and exciting day-to-day materials.

According to VERITAS Design Group, a similar concept could also work for residential properties, both landed and high-rise.

You can create cozy spaces within your home. You can also create nooks for certain activities, and in other places, create meeting and social nodes.

You can even create a space to showcase souvenirs from your travels.

(The Star) Influx of tourists in Pahang

KUANTAN: Tourist arrivals in Pahang in the first six months of this year rose to eight million compared to six million during the same period last year.

State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin said the increase followed continuous aggressive campaigns to attract visitors in conjunction with Visit Pahang Year 2017.

“Apart from the continuous campaigns via social sites as well as through television and radio, we also held many activities and new events to attract tourists to the state.

“As a result, the number of tourists visiting the state in the first six months of this year grew considerably and we are optimistic of achieving 15 million tourists as targeted earlier,” he said.

He said new tourism products being promoted included Che Minah Sayang Recreation Park in Maran which was formerly known as Lubuk Ujid, the Black Water Jewel of Pekan as well as the Merapoh Run in Lipis.

Apart from that, he said events in the state’s annual tourism calendar such the Kuantan 160 Century Ride, Royal Pahang Billfish Century Ride International Challenge and Start in Tioman diving event also drew local and foreign visitors.

“Lately, we found sports tourism has a big following and we hope to create more events in the future,” he said.

At the same time, he said the state government would continue to promote 2017 Visit Pahang Year with road shows nationwide.

“We have already carried out the campaign for the southern zone and after this we will be going to the northern and eastern zones before going to Sabah and Sarawak.

“We will also be going to Kazakhstan, China and Turkey following requests for us to hold promotions there,” he said. – Bernama

(The Star) Glorious seafood, no cutlery

Eating shellfish with your hands is somewhat a satisfying process.

Perhaps it is the feeling of cracking a crab claw to reveal the juicy flesh, peeling the shell off a whole prawn in one pull, or tasting the sauce dripping off my fingers while the crustacean’s flavour lingers on the palate.

Dining without cutlery is unusual but at the Shell Out Seafood Restaurant, it is practically celebrated.

We dined at the Kota Damansara restaurant and the experience was fun.

The dishes, separated in bags, were brought to us in a bucket and served on a sheet of paper covering the table as no plates are needed here.

The crabs prepared with the Shell Bang sauce with an ‘OMG’ level of spiciness is a personal favourite.

We kept clean by wearing a bib but our hands immediately got messy digging into a variety of shellfish.

What worked up my appetite were the crabs prepared with the Shell Bang sauce with an addictive flavour termed “OMG” – the most spicy offering on the menu.

The tender crab flesh was complemented by the fiery gravy that also goes great with warm rice or garlic bread.

We had clams in the “curry curry” sauce that unlike the regular curry flavour, has an added peppery taste that made it pretty fragrant.

To simmer down the spiciness, we tried the prawns and giant scallops cooked with butter garlic sauce.

If you order crawfish, chances are you will leave with a new skill as waiters will equip you with the most effective peeling method and you will get the hang of it after working on three or four crawfish.

Anyone who dines at Shell Out will get a crash course from the server on the most effective way to peel a crawfish.

Shell Out founders, husband and wife team Derick Yap and Candy Kwok created five distinct sauces including lemon pepper, butter garlic, black pepper, curry curry and Shell Bang which is a mix of lemon pepper and butter garlic.

“Shell Bang is our signature and customers’ favourite, and it matches anything really.

“Some of the richer flavours go well with the hard shell crustaceans while the milder sauces work on prawns and scallops so as to not overwhelm the freshness of the shellfish,” he said.

Yap, who was based in California with his wife, chose to venture into the food and beverage business here upon returning from the US in 2012.

“When I came back to Malaysia for holidays, I just felt it was right to open a seafood shop of this concept as it was not very known then,” shared Yap.

Yap said his wife’s love for seafood also spurred him to venture into the seafood-restaurant business.

The squid with lemon pepper. The small size lets you plop each one into your mouth easily.

The couple opened their first restaurant in Kota Damansara in June 2013 out of a whim, where they designed the recipes and manned the kitchen as well as floor operations, all while Kwok was pregnant.

“It wasn’t easy but you can say we learned along the way, and a lot of things just sort of fell into place for us – the food, the restaurant decor and the way we run our business.

“Things were slow to pick up at first and we’ve even considered closing it at one point, until a few celebrities dined here and shared their experience on social media – that was a game changer,” said Yap.

Today, Shell Out is managed by Yap together with his family members and they now run five eateries. There are plans to open two more restaurants.

Shell Out is also located at Setia Alam, G Village in Kuala Lumpur, Publika and Putrajaya Ayer 8.

SHELL OUT SEAFOOD RESTAURANT,16-1, Jalan Pju 5/15, Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. (Tel: 03-7497 1137). Business hours: 11am to 10pm (Sunday to Thursday), 11am to 11pm (weekend and public holiday eve).

This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

(The Star) Aeon to sell land and mall in Cheras for RM88mil

KUALA LUMPUR: Aeon Co (M) Bhd will dispose of 2.83ha of freehold land with a two-storey retail shopping centre known as the AEON Mahkota Cheras Shopping Centre for RM87.8mil to Foremost Wealth Management Sdn Bhd in a move to focus and develop its future retail business.

Both parties entered into a sale and purchase agreement yesterday.

The proposed disposal was expected to give rise to an estimated gain of RM17mil after adjusting for necessary expenses and taxes for the financial year ending Dec 31, the company said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

The cash proceeds are intended to be used as working capital of the company and to reduce borrowings, it added. — Bernama

(The Star) ‘Ant House’ a new attraction

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism industry players should think out of the box to come up with unique and fun products so that tourists will not get bored seeing the same things when visiting Sabah, a state minister said.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Sabah has a lot of potential in the industry, and it is more than just snorkelling, islands and mountains.

“Yes, we have many tourists coming here every year but if we keep telling them to go up the mountain, go to the islands and try snorkelling, they would probably feel bored after some time,” he said at the opening of the Borneo Ant House theme park in Tuaran, 35km from here.

Masidi said there were about 3.24 million visitors to Sabah last year, generating revenue of about RM7.5bil, showing the state’s popularity as a destination.

That is why, he said, Sabah’s tourism products need diversity and creativity.

“The more products (we have) and the more diverse they are, the better it is for us and for tourists,” he said.

He also urged tourism players to incorporate homestays and hotels into their products as these are some aspects of tourism where there is demand and room for growth.

Masidi commended the operators of the Borneo Ant House for daring to be different by offering underground walkways and tunnels, simu­lating an ant nest, as well as canopy walkways.

“This is a family business and I am proud to see Sabahans tap into this industry,” he said, adding that the ministry would help promote the Borneo Ant House through its Tourism Board.

“We will assist where possible for this place to be marketed and maybe expanded in future,” he said.

The Borneo Ant House will be open to the public from July 1. The entrance fee is RM9 for the disabled, senior citizens aged 60 and above as well as children aged seven and below.

Malaysian adults are charged RM18 per entry while non-Malaysian visitors are charged double the fee for each category.

Borneo Ant House executive director Sufiah Abd Rahim Lee, 59, said the underground walkways and mini-tunnels will educate visitors a little about ants, as well as some unique aspects of Borneo culture.

Visitors can also take in the nature via the canopy walks, said the mother of five.

“The name ‘Ant House’ is taken from the concept of living underground, like an ant,” said Sufiah, a retired teacher.

She said her family wanted to come up with something no one had done before.

In the three underground galleries for visitors to explore, the first features ants; the second showcases the cultures of the Bajau, Dusun Lotud, Iban and Bidayuh peoples; and the third focuses on swords.

“The Bajau and Dusun Lotuds make up the majority of the population in Tuaran while the Iban and Bidayuh people are the largest ethnic groups of Sarawak,” she said.

Sufiah added that the sword gallery also includes weapons from headhunter days of yore.

(The Star) Aloha! AirAsia X now flying to Hawaii

HONOLULU: AirAsia X, Malaysia’s award-winning long-haul, low-cost carrier, has launched its inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur to Hawaii via Osaka, Japan.

The departure lounge at KLIA2 where passengers boarded flight D7 001 was abuzz with excitement.

Gracing the launch at KLIA2 was AirAsia X chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz who adorned passengers with floral garlands.

After the approximately six-hour flight to Osaka, the celebration continued with Rafidah and AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail present at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kansai Airport.

In Honolulu, State of Hawaii Chief of Staff Mike McCartney, Malaysian ambassador to the United States Tan Sri Dr Zulhasnan Rafique, and Hawaiian Tourism Authority (HTA) president and CEO George D. Szigeti also attended a press conference.

AirAsia X Group CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said when he founded AirAsia with partner Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, they dreamed of democratising air travel for everyone so flying would no longer be a luxury only a few could enjoy.

“The landmark route to Hawaii is a bold new chapter in that quest to help more people travel farther for less. But this is just the beginning, and soon our guests will be able to enjoy flights to even more destinations in the US as we continue to grow our international footprint,” he said.

HTA’s Szigeti said they were deeply honoured AirAsia X had chosen Honolulu as its initial destination to expand its service in the United States.

“We appreciate how this route strengthens our ties with the people and culture of Malaysia.

“AirAsia X customers in Kuala Lumpur and Osaka will enjoy the convenience of this direct service and how it connects them with the welcoming spirit of the Hawaiian culture, the spectacular natural beauty of our islands, and the diversity of Asia-Pacific influences that enriches the experience of being in Hawaii.”

Last week, AirAsia was named the World’s Best Low Cost Airline for the ninth consecutive year, while AirAsia X won the World’s Best Low Cost Airline Premium Cabin and Premium Seat awards for the fifth year in a row at the Skytrax World Airline Awards held at the Paris Air Show.

AirAsia X flies from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu via Osaka four times a week.

To celebrate the inaugural flight, AirAsia X is offering a one-way fare from RM899 for a standard seat or RM2,999 for the award-winning Premium flatbed, from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu. The promotional fares are available on now through July 2, for travel between Oct 1 and Aug 28, 2018.

(The Star) CM: Digital tech push will end discrimination

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg wants to end racial discrimination by transforming the state’s economy through digital technology.

“Technology is colour blind ... it doesn’t care whether you are Chinese, Dayak or Malay. And when your economy is liberalised, everybody will benefit.

“There is no more racial discrimination because it depends on your ability to give value to whatever you want to do.

“To me, the racial thing will be out because with technology, you either know it or you don’t,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Star.

Abang Johari, who was sworn in as Chief Minister on Jan 30, said the technologically savvy would be able to earn more in the digital economy he envisioned for Sarawak.

“But you must create the environment to do that. That is why I really want to go for the digital economy.

“Then there will be real competition among students and they can try to produce something that is really different from others.

“It’s no longer based on race. Anyone who is good, let them do it,” he added.

On his proposed LRT project, the CM said construction of the trunk line from Kuching to Serian was expected to start within the next three years.

He said the line would connect the Kuching International Airport and Kuching Sentral bus terminal with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in Kota Samarahan and Serian.

“The first phase of the project will focus on the main trunk before connecting other parts of Kuching city. It will take between eight and 10 years to complete,” he added.

Abang Johari said the feasibility study for the LRT has been completed, adding that it would help the state to set up new townships in suburban areas and ease population density in the city.

He said the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation will manage the LRT service in its formative stage through a subsidiary company.

“The company will find ways and means to recover the cost, not through the LRT service itself but by other developments such as new townships and the stations, with premises that can be rented to businesses,” he said.

(The Star) Growth target thrust to be focused in three levels

PUTRAJAYA: A micro-level approach is being carried out to increase and meet the national labour productivity growth target.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri S.K. Devamany said the higher 3.7% annual growth was set under the 11th Malaysia Plan, adding that last year’s growth was 3.5%. He said the thrust will be focused at the national, sector and enterprise levels.

The national effort will be led by the core ministries and agencies to target productivity policies across the economic sector, while the sector-level initiative is to be spearheaded by key industry associations and anchor enterprises. The enterprise-level effort will be taken over by the respective managements.

“All these mean we are moving from the macro to the micro-level, with specific priorities set under the Malaysia Productivity Blueprint,” Devamany said in an interview.

The Blueprint, launched last month, spells out strategies and plans to meet the productivity target.

In order to become an advanced nation by 2020, Malaysia must record a labour productivity growth of 3.7% annually, among others.

Devamany said there were nine sub-sectors identified to boost productivity at the sector-level, divided into “three waves”, the first covering retail and F&B, chemical and chemical products, and electrical and electronics. The second wave will focus on machinery and equipment, tourism and agro-food, with the third on ICT, professional services and private healthcare.

“These are pertinent industries which have an impact on our GDP, income per capita and national economy,” he said.

(The Edge Financial Daily) S P Setia signs conditional agreement to take over I&P Group

S P Setia Bhd has signed a conditional share purchase agreement to acquire I&P Group Sdn Bhd from its controlling shareholder Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) for RM3.65 billion cash.

S P Setia is proposing a cash call plus private placement to raise the required funding.

“This synergistic acquisition will further strengthen Setia’s brand presence in Malaysia and help pave the way for the creation of greater shareholder value for S P Setia. I&P’s landbank is located in the Klang Valley and Johor Bahru, and mostly in areas where S P Setia had established a stronghold with its Setia brand,” said Datuk Khor Chap Jen, president and chief executive officer of S P Setia, in a statement.

PNB is the largest shareholder of S P Setia, holding approximately a 62.3% stake, including shares held by its equity trust funds, like Amanah Saham Bumiputera (26.27%) and Amanah Saham Malaysia (3.53%).

I&P Group has 4,276 acres (1,730ha) of landbank, which when combined with the landbank of S P Setia would total 9,417 acres, making S P Setia the third-largest property developer in Malaysia by such a measure.

(The Edge Financial Daily) Global Oriental and Malton in JV for mixed Development

Global Oriental Bhd is teaming up with Malton Bhd for a mixed development project on 38.34 acres of land in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

Global Oriental's wholly-owned subsidiary Fame Action Sdn Bhd signed the deal with Malton's wholly-owned unit Layar Raya Sdn Bhd on June 23.

The seven plots of freehold land are to be developed at the absolute discretion of Fame Action as the developer, said Global Oriental.

Layar Raya is entitled to 18% of the net development value of the project, “which shall not be less than RM65 million”, it said. The development is expected to be carried out and completed in phases over a five-year period from the date of the development order being approved. Subsequently, the deal can be extended for a further two years subject to market supply and demand conditions. “At this juncture, the development is still at the planning stage and the details of the mixed development components have yet to be finalised,” Global Oriental said.