Shadow over hotels up north

HOTELS up north are feeling the pinch due to the global impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

Many of them said they have started experiencing a drop in their business.

Four-star luxury hotel The Prestige Hotel general manager Melvin Ooi said business at the hotel in George Town had been slow since the virus outbreak.

“We have experienced a dip in reservations of between 10% and 20%, ” he said on Thursday.

Ooi said the hotel was offering various special deals in light of the outbreak.

He said guests who booked rooms via the hotel’s website would be entitled to one free ride with Grab to any destination within Penang island.

He added that currently, they had no guests from mainland China and only a few from Hong Kong.

“Most of our guests are from the West, ” he said.

At 23 Love Lane Hotel, no tourists from China have extended their stays, while the hotel experienced cancellation of rooms after the outbreak began.

Its hotel manager Fauzi Razak said that when the virus started to make headlines globally, they received about 25 cancellations from tourists in China.

“A few Singaporean tourists also cancelled their reservations as they were concerned about the virus, ” he said.

Fauzi said that to offset the negative impact, the hotel was extending its reservation vouchers from six months to a year instead.

“This way, our guests can retain their reservation vouchers for a longer period and I hope the outbreak will end soon.

“At present, no Chinese national is stranded at our hotel. Most of our guests are from Europe.

“All our guests are taking preventive measures, ” he said.

The management of Ixora Hotel Penang in Prai say they are not badly affected as most of their guests are locals.

Its senior director of sales and marketing Mohd Faishal Mohd Yusoff said the business dropped by a mere 5% because of the epidemic.

However, he said, a few companies that had earlier planned to hold big events and seminars at the hotel were now asking for a postponement.

“We have given them some flexibility by allowing them the postponement until their next available date and we are not charging them any additional fee for that, ” he said.

Mohd Faishal said the hotel had placed hand sanitisers at the function rooms for guests while the staff were advised to maintain good personal hygiene.

Meanwhile, Kedah/Perlis Malaysian Association of Hoteliers (MAH) chairman Eugene Dass said a few hotels in Langkawi recorded Chinese tourists who were stranded and had to extend their stay.

He said there were no cases of stranded tourists at hotels on mainland Kedah.

Eugene said he believed many hotels in Kedah and Perlis were embarking on their own promotions to improve business.

“We are waiting for all this to be over with. The industry can bounce back as usual.

“Malaysians should not believe unverified news about the virus.

“I understand it is a big issue but we should not be afraid to travel especially within Malaysia.

“We are ranked third in the work on the list of the most prepared countries in the prevention of the virus.

“Go out, don’t just stay at home. Don’t panic, ” he said.

At present, there are 51 hotels in Kedah and Perlis that are members of MAH.

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