THE sweltering heat proved no obstacle for holidaymakers as they flocked to George Town in Penang to discover the charms of the island on Christmas day.
Armed with sunshades and hats, some explored the heritage enclave on foot while others took the trishaw or rode bicycles.
A trishawman, known only as Ravi, turned heads when he dressed up in a red Santa suit to chauffeur his passengers around.
His eye-catching trishaw was also embellished with various Christmas ornaments.
Drinks sellers and souvenir shops at the Khoo Kongsi and Chew Jetty enjoyed brisk business.
The popular Line Clear Nasi Kandar eatery and the famous cendol stall in Penang Road also saw a long queue of customers.
Traffic was slow-moving along Weld Quay and Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu heading towards town and around the malls.
Chinese tourists Winnie Cheung and her boyfriend Terry Chung, both 25, were in Penang for four days to sample the street fare and discover the heritage gems.
“We just came from Langkawi and it is time now to discover more of Penang,” she said.
Although George Town was recently listed in The Guardian as one of the hottest destinations in Asia, Penang Hoteliers Association and Malaysian Budget Hotel Association Penang Chapter chairman Datuk Lim Mee Lee said the occupancy rate was only 70% except during the weekends.
“It is considered the peak season now but we think the recent floods are a factor,” he said.
The Nov 4 and 5 floods which were said to be the worst in Penang saw many cancelling their bookings and trips to Penang.
Lim pointed out that another reason could be the bad weather forecast for Dec 21 to 25.
He added that he was not optimistic tourist arrivals would pick up as the new school term is about to start soon.