BIGGER players must come in and 'fly-by-night' theme park projects need to be kept out of the picture in order for the 100% tax exemption for theme parks to propel the tourism industry.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk K.L. Tan said theme parks are definite attractions for both domestic and foreign tourists, but it will take bigger plans to draw foreign tourists.
"Theme parks in Kuala Lumpur are doing well. I hope theme park companies will open more in other states like Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and also on the east coast.
"But we will need bigger plans to draw in the international market," he said.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that new investments in international theme park projects will be given income tax exemption of 100% of statutory income or an Investment Tax Allowance of 100% to be set off against 70% for five years.
Malaysian Association of hotels Penang chairman Khoo Boo Lim said the incentive will help theme park operators to survive while they gain market traction.
"The investment in proper theme parks is very high. The returns are pretty long-term. It is not going to be nice to see a theme park collapse and discourage more of such investments.
"Theme parks are good because they create jobs, contribute to other industries and provide entertainment to both local and international communities," he said.
Khoo cautioned against 'fly-by-night' theme park projects mushrooming to get the 100% tax break.
The chief executive officer of Escape theme park in Teluk Bahang, Sim Choo Kheng, also hopes the government will watch out for theme park projects "that are actually real estate projects."
"There have been a few theme park projects in the past that are actually township developments. After a few years, the theme park fails and the development around it becomes a ghost town.
"As a theme park operator, I am elated that the government is giving us such recognition and encouragement.
"But, I hope the government will be careful of property developers taking advantage of the tax exemption," he said.