Decline in tourists reportedly driving Johor Bahru's Sanrio Hello Kitty Town closure

The Sanrio Hello Kitty Town at Johor Bahru's Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park is closing down at the end of the year, nearly seven years after it opened in 2012, according to Chinese-language newspaper Oriental Daily News. The Sanrio Hello Kitty Town is the first Hello Kitty theme park outside of Japan and is managed by Themed Attractions and Resorts, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Malaysian government's investment arm Khazanah Nasional.

Quoting Liow Cai Tung, chairman of the Johor Women Development and Tourism Committee, Oriental Daily News said that the closure was due to the decline in tourists in the recent years, which resulted in losses. As such, Hello Kitty Town decided to cease operations. Liow added that most of the town's visitors were mainly from Singapore and other Southeast Asia, while few are from mainland China, Oriental Daily News reported. The report also added that tickets to Hello Kitty Town, as well as Thomas the Tank Engine town which is also located at Puteri Harbour, are sold as a package together with Legoland Malaysia tickets.

Sanrio Hello Kitty Town lists Astro, Coca-Cola, Petron, Lady's Choice, and U Mobile as its partners, according to the website. The four-storey Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park cost approximately RM115 million to build and the Hello Kitty Town opened to much fanfare in 2012. A+M has reached out to Liao and Themed Attractions and Resorts for comment.

(Photo courtesy: Hello Kitty Facebook page)