LOCAL tourists are slowly returning, with a handful of them spotted at tourist spots in Penang on the first weekend of the recovery movement control order (MCO).
But the thin crowds could be a sign that the people’s fear of the Covid-19 pandemic may take longer to fade away.
Among those spotted at the heritage site were newly-weds from Kuala Lumpur, Mohamad Hazaq Mohd Nasir, 25, and his wife Noor Amirasuhaida Aziz, 22, who were on a 3D2N honeymoon trip.
The pair got married in March and saw all their wedding ceremony and honeymoon plans disrupted when the MCO started.
Hazaq said they picked Penang as he had studied here before he became a soldier, and he wanted to show his wife places that he was familiar with and held memories for him.
“We originally planned to have our honeymoon in Langkawi, but since our plans had to be cancelled, we came here instead.
“There were a lot of changes but thankfully, we are able to travel now.
“Right after they announced the recovery MCO, we searched for hotels and places where we could go.“It is a much-needed break for us and for me to make up for the honeymoon time my wife deserves, ” Mohamad Hazaq said when met last week.
The ban on interstate travel was lifted on June 10, allowing holidaymakers to go on domestic travel and businessmen to travel.
Another local tourist, marine captain Steven Foong, 39, was found enjoying a trishaw ride with his family.
“After the MCO moved into recovery phase, the first thing we wanted to do was spend some family time outside and take in the sights and sounds.
“This is one trip where all of us are especially appreciative of the family time we get to spend right now.
“We booked four trishaws for our tour and we will be going around areas like Esplanade and the heritage enclaves.
“We fell in love with the beauty of Penang again even though we live here, ” said Foong.
Kek Lok Si Temple and Penang Hill also saw locals emerging for day trips but Chew Jetty remained closed and empty last weekend.
Spotted taking photos with her family and friends in front of Kek Lok Si Temple was Sonia Nair from Kuala Lumpur.
“We decided to come here for the weekend. I am happy and excited that we are finally ‘released’.
“This is my first trip this year and I cannot wait to savour the famous Penang cendol, ” said the 32-year-old who works in a bank.
Dental nurse Dalila Abu Zaki, 32, who visited Penang Hill, brought her three-year-old son to Penang for the first time.
“We decided to bring my son to Penang Hill to enjoy the cool breeze.
“My husband and I immediately applied for leave when the interstate travel ban was lifted.
“We left Kuala Lumpur for Ipoh on Wednesday night to spend a few days with my in-laws before coming here on Friday.
“Although we cannot use the public pool at the hotel, my son was very happy that he could play in the bathtub, ” she said.
Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) general manager Datuk Cheok
Lay Leng said a thermal scanner was set up at the entrance to the Penang Hill railway station.
“We will adhere strictly to the standard operating procedures (SOP) and modify the process to cater to larger crowds.
“We are prepared to modify the SOP according to requirements and guidelines given.
“We will need to speed it up
as many hikers are visiting since outdoor activities were allowed from June 6.
“We had around 100 hikers on the first day and the number has been increasing.
“Since interstate travel is allowed now, we have tourists visiting from as far as Johor again, ” he said.
Cheok added that the funicular railway coach capacity was now limited to only 30 passengers instead of the maximum 100.
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