31 July 2012

Malaysia’s Desaru Coast: Re-establishing Desaru as an international tourism destination? | The Development Advisor

Malaysia’s Desaru Coast: Re-establishing Desaru as an international tourism destination? | The Development Advisor

Recent History

During the 1980′s Desaru was a very popular beach destination with about half a dozen hotels. Events since then have not been kind to Desaru. Relatively cheaper airfares and more attractive Asian regional beach destinations lured travelers away from Desaru. The deteriorating numbers of visitors led accommodation standards into a downward spiral. Without further coherent tourism development planning each negative circumstance re-enforced the other.

Iskandar Malaysia & Malaysian Tourism Development

On a positive note the fortunes of Desaru seems to be changing under the umbrella of Iskandar Malaysia as well as the Tourism NKEA’s of the PEMANDU’s Malaysia Economic Transformation Program.
‘Desaru Coast’ appears to be the new branding for the new developments in Desaru.  This re-vamp is also partly a recreational outlet for the people working  in the new Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Complex (RAPID) in nearby Penggarang once completed in 2016.
The new Senai-Desaru Expressway also improves accessibility from others parts of Johor as well as for visitors coming from Singapore.  Even existing properties like the 190-key Pulai Desaru Beach Resort has been recently updated to take advantage of the renewed interest in the location.

Desaru Coast

Khazanah Nasional Bhd through Desaru Development Corp Sdn Bhd and Desaru Development Holdings One Sdn Bhd are spear heading the development ofDesaru Coast with substantial investments in hotels, golf courses and themed attractions.  In total it encompasses around 1,000 new hotel rooms over 1,700 hectares. This is over and above the existing 1,250 rooms which have been in existence since the 1980′s.
New projects announced for Desaru Coast:
  • Sheraton Desaru (357 rooms)
  • Aman Country Club and Villas (50 rooms + 50 villas)
  • The Plantation Hotel (400 rooms)
  • Datai Desaru Resort (60 suites 40 pool villas)
  • Ernie Els Residences (information not available)
  • Vijay Singh Residences (information not available)
  • Convention Centre
  • Riverwalk Retail
  • Marine Park / Water Park / Wildlife Park
  • Ernie Els 27 hole golf course
  • Vijay Singh 18 hole golf course
Existing hotels in Desaru:
  • Pulai Desaru Beach Resort & Spa (193 rooms)
  • Lotus Desaru Beach Resort (700 rooms)
  • Desaru Damai Beach Resort (134 rooms)
  • Desaru Golden Beach Resort (220 rooms)

Key Question

While the re-development of Desaru is highly praised and total room count can yield about 600,000 visitors annually a key question remains: Does the new Desaru Coast capture the full tourism development potential of the area?
Let’s examine the SWOT to understand some of the broader dynamics inherent in Desaru.
  • Beautiful natural coastline.
  • Abundant undeveloped land.
  • Good infrastructure already existing in the area.
  • Set within the larger Iskandar Malaysia development zone.
  • Desaru Coast is backed by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah.
  • Next to and easy accessibility from Singapore.
  • Easier accessibility with the new Senai-Desaru Expressway.
  • Warm relations between Singapore and Malaysia reflected in the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia, and the
  • Khazanah Nasional and Temasek Holdings joint development through M+S Pte Ltd and Pulau Indah Ventures Sdn Bhd.
  • Rapid Transit Link between Singapore and Johor Bahru that’s slated to commence operations by 2018.
  • Excellent investment location for coastal resort homes due to proximity to a financial hub, clarity on land laws and land titles, favorable foreign property ownership and property financing regulations (compared against other regional countries) as well as MM2H incentives.
  • Currently requires private transport to get there.
  • A lack of a property ‘maintenance’ culture in the country as a whole. See here.
  • Lacks the charm of Thailand or an exotic visual culture like in Bali.
  • An unsafe image due to life lost to drowning as well as concerns about generalpublic safety and security in the state of Johor.
  • Greater international tourism accessibility being located next to Singapore and in particular across from the airport at Changi.
  • A possible Third (3rd) Bridge Link between Malaysia and Singapore can potentially form an excellent basis for Desaru becoming a major international tourism destination.
  • Excellent location for coastal homes along the lines of a New York City – Long Island model (just as Iskandar Malaysia – Singapore are touted as a Shenzhen – Hongkong model for industry). This resort / tourism / residential strip could potentially stretch all the way to Teluk Mahkota.
  • With proper planning and execution this can be an opportunity to target higher yield visitors as envisioned in the ETP Tourism Handbook.
  • Existing attributes can potentially turn Desaru into a modern and contemporary coastal destination that can rival existing regional competition in visitorship.
  • Competition from much more established regional coastal destinations.


It’s quite apparent that there are opportunities to be seized in the vision of a greater Desaru development. While the upcoming Desaru Coast project will be a much-needed catalyst to revive Desaru as a tourism destination its current scale is not sufficient to capture the full potential that the location offers.
For Desaru to be transformational to the Malaysian economy and tourism landscape, a larger scale tourism master plan needs to be developed and supported at the level of Iskandar Malaysia in order to make it work over the longer term. To be transformational it should complement and tap the potential of the Singapore economy just like it’s currently being done for other industries. At the same time leverage off Singapore’s global accessibility in order to capture a slice of the larger global tourism market. This would necessarily make Desaru an international destination in and of it self – a challenging and not straight forward task. But the payoff can be potentially significant. Indeed the good news is that much of the foundation and key ingredients are already in place. This begs the next question: Does Iskandar Malaysia view a greater Desaru tourism development area as sufficiently strategic and worthy of consideration?

New world paradigm

29 July 2012

New eBook On Strategic Planning

New eBook On Strategic Planning

One of the biggest challenges for public and private sector community leaders is to ensure residents enjoy sustainable economic prosperity. Some communities are blessed with amazing natural assets making the challenge a little easier to address. Some communities have well developed and highly competitive industry clusters to build from.
Whatever the situation, to be successful requires a well conceived, aligned strategic plan and excellence in execution of the resultant tactical action plans. Without a strategic plan to guide decision-making, communities are like corks on the ocean rising and falling with each economic wave.
Occasionally, there are disruptive events that test the strength of any strategic plan and need to be addressed. It can be the loss of a major employer, the devastation of a natural disaster, or the unexpected emergence of a brand new industry.
I authored this eBook with the latter in mind. The emergence of the shale energy industry in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays is creating a disruptive impact on many rural communities in the nation’s Appalachian Region. A Region that has a history of suffering through boom-bust cycles related to the emergence of new industries (lumber, steel, and coal). My assessment is that in each case, the Region had an opportunity to leverage the new industry as a springboard to sustainable economic prosperity, but due to a lack of adequate strategic planning became a victim of circumstances.
Through my work with the Nemacolin Energy Institute and with Ohio’s Enterprise Appalachia Program, I have had an opportunity to talk with a wide range of people from both the public and private sector about the shale energy industry. I am absolutely convinced the difference between success and failure in creating sustainable economic prosperity for the communities impacted by the emergence of this exciting new industry is a function of the quality of the strategic plans that are in place and the disciplined approach to using those plans to guide local decision-making.

Foundational Models

This eBook leverages two proven successful models and attempts to integrate them into a reasonably easy process that can be implemented locally (with or without professional facilitation).
The first model is the OGSM process. This process was initially developed by Monitor, a globally recognized consulting firm. I have used the model on a number of occasions and found it to be an excellent way of driving choices and providing clarity on what the plan for success looks like. Monitor has a great article on its website titled “Dynamic Strategy Implementation: Delivering on Your Strategic Ambition”  that is worth reviewing. The authors cite three common reasons for strategic plan failure – 1) failure to create sufficient action plans, 2) failure to adapt the strategies to respond to major changes in the situation, and 3) failure to resource execution properly. It is important your community leaders talk through how to avoid these classic traps and implement policies/procedures that avoid the missteps and help ensure your chances for success.
The second model is the rural wealth creation modelwhich is a project of the Ford Foundation. The model defines seven forms of community wealth – financial capital, natural capital, social capital, individual capital, built capital, intellectual capital and political capital. The goal for a community is to ensure that a broad definition of wealth is used in guiding strategic decision-making.
The hybrid model in the eBook challenges you to use the rural wealth creation definition of wealth as a framework to assess the impacts of the shale energy industry on your community and then communicate the strategic choice implications within the OGSM framework. I believe this approach provides you advantages in the strategy design-to-deployment process. While authored with the shale energy industry in mind, any community that wants to proactively manage its economic prosperity in a way that helps ensure sustainability can use this hybrid model.
To be clear, the model in this eBook is not the only way to create a strategic plan for your community. But, it is a way I can confidently share with you. If you opt to use a consultant or Agency to help facilitate the strategic planning process for your community, chances are they will have their own trademarked approach. While it may get you to where you need to be, I would encourage you to make following the process in this eBook as a requirement of your RFP. They can adapt they approach to this model rather easily, and you will be certain that at the end of the exercise you will have a strategic plan with secondary action plans you can be confident in. As a heads-up, most consultants will be familiar with the OGSM model, but may not be familiar with the rural wealth creation model.

The eBook

Strategic Planning For Communities  [Note, in the eBook the special red color text is a hotline to a resource.  Please use the resources for an even better understanding of the subject.]

28 July 2012

Weekend free time with

Vinokurov claims Road Race gold London 2012

Alexandr Vinokurov triumphed in a dramatic men's Road Race on The Mall to claim gold for Kazakhstan.

187Kazakhstan VINOKUROV Alexandr5:45:57+
252Colombia URAN URAN Rigoberto5:45:57+
3122Norway KRISTOFF Alexander5:46:05+
429United States of America PHINNEY Taylor5:46:05+
5120Uzbekistan LAGUTIN Sergey5:46:05+
624Australia O'GRADY Stuart5:46:05+
718Belgium ROELANDTS Jurgen5:46:05+
840Switzerland RAST Gregory5:46:05+
982New Zealand BAUER Jack5:46:05+
1031Netherlands BOOM Lars5:46:05+
1196Denmark FUGLSANG Jakob5:46:05+
1243Portugal COSTA Rui Alberto Faria5:46:05+
133Spain SANCHEZ GIL Luis Leon5:46:05+
1485Czech Republic KREUZIGER Roman5:46:05+
1551Colombia HENAO MONTOYA Sergio Luis5:46:05+
1688Ukraine GRIVKO Andriy5:46:05+
174Spain VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro5:46:05+
1817Belgium GILBERT Philippe5:46:05+
1954France CHAVANEL Sylvain5:46:05+
2059Slovenia BRAJKOVIC Janez5:46:05+
2176Japan BEPPU Fumiyuki5:46:05+
2232Netherlands GESINK Robert5:46:05+
2362Russian Federation KOLOBNEV Alexandr5:46:05+
24124Norway NORDHAUG Lars Petter5:46:05+
251Spain CASTROVIEJO NICOLAS Jonathan5:46:13+
2647Germany GREIPEL Andre5:46:37+
2716Belgium BOONEN Tom5:46:37+
2811Great Britain CAVENDISH Mark5:46:37

Alexandr Vinokurov of Kazakhstan wins gold in the men's Road Race
Alexandr Vinokurov of Kazakhstan celebrates crossing the finish line to win the men's Road Race Cycling on Day 1 of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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