THE Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang Chapter expects the island's hotel occupancy rate to improve by 5% to 7% in the second half this year compared with the corresponding period of 2004.
The occupancy rate in 2004 was between 60% and 70%.
We expect our guests to be those with the disposable income to travel, but were not able to do so earlier because of the tsunami incident.
We also expect more arrivals from the Middle-East as the school holidays in that region start in July and August, MAH's newly-appointed chairman Arbind K. Shrestha told StarBiz.
He also said the hotels were expecting Australian travellers who wanted to get away from their country's cold weather and Japanese tourists who would be travelling away from the summer season.
We also have of course travellers from traditional markets such as Europe and North America, Shrestha said.
He said hotel room rates in Penang were still very competitive compared with those in Bali, Phuket and Langkawi.
Our rates are among the lowest in the region. Hence, there is no plan to reduce prices.
However, some hotels have special seasonal rates during school holidays and long weekends, he said.
Shrestha said Penang still had the attractions to draw leisure tourists and businessmen.
About 50% to 60% of hotel guests are leisure travellers, while the rest are businessmen, he said.
Shrestha said the hospitality industry was looking forward to the opening of Penang's marina and international cruise terminal projects, scheduled for completion in two and a half years.
The development of the Marina and Cruise Terminal will further boost tourism in Penang.
We, in the hospitality industry, will work together with the state government on a strategy to promote these tourism facilities even before they are completed, as lead time is required for the authorities to include these new facilities into promotional programmes and packages, he said.