I-Bhd to invest RM50m to woo more visitors to i-City

KUALA LUMPUR: I-Bhd, an integrated ICT-based developer, will invest RM50 million over the next five years to fit in more attractions for tourists in the i-City, a technology-based township in the Klang Valley.

Chief executive officer Datuk Eu Hong Chew said the company has so far invested RM20 million to develop the first two elements of tourism (property and attractions) and each investment is expected to have a payback period of five to six years.       

These investments, which are different from property development investments, are expected to enhance the value of i-City.

"The objective is to make the properties a significant crowd puller and each attraction is to generate sufficient (income) for re-investment," he said after visiting some of South Korea's major attractions, including Lotte World, Digital Pavilion and Songdo's ubiquitous city, the first new sustainable city in the world, last week.

Eu said i-City was also considering the idea of building theme parks and amusement park rides similar to the Lotte World concept to make the development more interesting and attractive.

He said i-City, Malaysia's only technology-based property, also intends to introduce attractions such as boat rides, natural environment and LED screen, which was 60% completed.

It currently offers visitors SnoWalk, i-Walk and LED lights. i-Walk is a 30,000 sq ft covered outdoor convention arena to serve MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) sector of i-City.

SnoWalk is a 50,000 sq ft area with LED lights, falling snow and ice sculptures as a tourist attraction.

"We are also looking into different approaches to sell our properties and services, as well as create a good work environment," he said.

Asked on his meeting with South Korean players, Eu said I-Bhd had plans to bring in foreign franchise to i-City, and this foreign franchisor attractions would allow I-Bhd to generate revenue for re-investment in the project.

"At the end of the day, we want i-City to not only be a knowledge hub, but also as a frontrunner in making this side of Shah Alam a tourist economic zone," he said.

On marketing and promotion strategies, Eu said i-City would also tie up with International Children Character and National Science Centre, as well as would celebrate international festivals in i-City to promote every nation's food, cultural show and business promotion activities.

Apart from introducing new attractions and facilities, i-City, conceptualised as a "gated but open" development, was also working with the local authorities to provide a conducive environment for tourists by providing many of the township services such as landscaping, garbage collection and back-up power supply.

While in South Korea, Eu was briefed by the Seoul Metropolitan Facilities Management Corporation Manager Kang Jeong on Cheongyecheon Restoration Project, a US$281 million project to remove the elevated highway and restore a stream.

Kang, who is in-charge of facilities and maintenance, said the project was to promote urban economy through amplifying urban infrastructure for a competitive city within the existing business and industrial area centred on the stream.

The Urban renewal project was the catalyst of revitalisation in downtown Seoul and Cheonggyecheon which became a centre for cultural and economic activities, he said.

Keeping Cheonggyecheon's success in mind, Eu said I-Bhd intends to develop the Rasau River in the eastern and southern boundary of the i-City.

He said the objective was to clean up the river by using wetland technology and to convert the concrete channellised banks into natural river banks.

"A clean river with its banks to remain a natural attraction of the area will increase the attractions, allowing us to make the focus of tourism and we hope to bring river attractions like water screens, musical fountains and boat rides," he said

The project aims to clean River Rasau over 300 metres to form a natural cliff and work is underway, including building landscaping, which will be completed by year-end, he said.

Ultimately, the objective is to create in I-City a campus-style live-work environment integrated into a large open space that boasts a lake that will also provide a waterfront environment, he added.

i-City, the brainchild of property developer I-Bhd, was honoured with the Selangor state government's "Tourism Icon Award" — the first recipient of the newly introduced award.

i-City's architect is world renowned Jon A Jerde, who is also responsible for some of the most acclaimed architectural landmarks in the modern world such as the Mall of America and Universal CityWalk in the US, Roppongi Hill in Japan and The Arcade @ Cyberport in Hong Kong. — Bernama

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