BY Kate May
That global luxury hospitality operators continue to see Malaysia, despite declines in tourist arrivals, as an appealing destination in the region speaks volumes.
For one, the country continues to be a significant recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI).
In its Global Cities 2017 Report on the future of real estate in the world’s leading cities, Knight Frank regards the Malaysian capital as “the FDI hub” as it pursues its growth ambition to be a services focal point and prime Asian base for multinational companies (MNCs) to grow their business across the region.
According to Knight Frank Malaysia executive director Judy Ong, Greater Kuala Lumpur (Greater KL), comprising KL city and its surrounding metropolitan areas, is the pulse of the country.
It is home to some 7.9 million people and the world’s fifth tallest skyscraper Petronas Twin Towers.
She said Greater KL, located in the heart of Asean, is well positioned as a regional hub for diverse economic and business activities as both the private and public sectors continue to attract global MNCs to set up their regional hubs here.
As of 2015, InvestKL has attracted 51 MNCs with cumulative approved/committed investments of US$1.50 billion (RM6.69 billion) and created 7,156 high skilled job opportunities.
With another three MNCs secured in 1H2016, InvestKL remains on track to meet its target of 100 MNCs by year 2020, Ong added.
She also noted Malaysia is the fifth largest recipient of FDI inflows in East and Southeast Asia based on the UNCTAD 2015 World Investment Report.
In the first quarter of 2016, the country attracted US$3.7 billion (RM16.50 billion) while its services-driven economy continued to chart commendable growth, expanding 4 per cent despite a protracted period of low crude oil and commodity prices and a weak currency.
By 2020, she said, the Greater KL skyline is set to change dramatically with scheduled completions which include the 118-storey Merdeka PNB118, and TRX Lifestyle Quarter which is Lendlease’s largest integrated development in Asia that will feature a luxury hotel, six residential towers and a retail destination connected to TRX Park and an MRT station.
Other projects include regeneration of former jail and air base sites which are the Bukit Bintang City Centre and Bandar Malaysia respectively, and rejuvenation of Damansara Town Centre in the Pavilion Damansara Heights development.
She said the country also continues to attract global luxury hospitality operators.
Following the six-star St Regis brand’s debut at KL Sentral will be Kempinski Hotel Group (8 Conlay project), AccorHotel’s Sofitel and So Sofitel brands (Guocoland’s Damansara City project and Oxley’s Jalan Ampang project), and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (Lot 185 KLCC project).
Meanwhile, transport infrastructure development is being stepped up in Greater KL, Ong noted.
By 2022, completion of some 140km rail link from the ongoing proposed MRT and LRT lines will greatly boost connectivity and mobility and help transform Greater KL into a sustainable and liveable metropolis.
The memorandum of understanding between the governments of Malaysia and Singapore on the High Speed Rail linking KL and the island republic also brings the game changer project a step closer to reality, she added.