Monday, October 27, 2014

Sabah: Rich foreigners' playground a tourism attraction

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is set to be transformed into a rich foreigners' playground of resort and spa with other leisure properties when the Second Sabah Tourism Master Plan is launched by year end to clarify and define the coastal potential for tourism particularly on the West Coast.

It might just be the boost needed for the success of the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) campaign here as expatriates rank Malaysia the 19th most desirable country to live and settle down after Switzerland and Singapore which were ranked first and second due to good law and order.

"This is the optimal time to acquire beachfront lands," said a tourism consultant. According to Christopher Boyd, it is still cheap to obtain resort lands in Sabah with prices around RM10 to RM12 per square foot.

The entry of Alila Resorts to Sabah helps to pull other top players in the industry particularly Club Med, now under Mainland Chinese interest, and Aman Resorts, to seriously look into setting up operations here, given the state's natural beauty.

The growth in such leisure tourism sector is going to provide many employment opportunities for the younger generations affording them the means to pay for their own housing needs.

As an example of what is to come, with strong Singaporean lead in the city centre's largest resort – the Sutera Harbour Resort which changed hands recently to Singapore Exchange-listed GSH Corp Ltd having acquired a 77.5 per cent stake in Sutera Harbour Group Sdn Bhd, the owner and operator of the Sutera Harbour Resort vide its wholly-owned subsidiary, Borneo Ventures Pte Ltd.

The Sutera Harbour Resort comprises two five-star hotels – the 500-room Pacific Sutera and 456-room The Magellan Sutera; the 104-berth Sutera Harbour Marina and Country Club; an award-winning 27-hole championship golf course designed by Graham Marsh; and a host of fine dining and recreational facilities.

In the past, GSH, through two of its wholly-owned subsidiaries Ocean View Ventures Pte Ltd and Ocean View Point Pte Ltd, also acquired two separate land parcels totalling nearly 10ha or 25.2 acres (1.1 million sq. ft.) within the 154ha Sutera Harbour property for future luxury condominium development with estimated gross development area of over 2.5 million sq. ft.