Big boost from working crowd


More people are returning to offices and many factories on the mainland have resumed full operations, says Raj Kumar.

HOTELS on Penang’s mainland are bouncing back faster ahead of their island counterparts after a period of downtime during the conditional movement control order (MCO).

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang chapter chairman K. Raj Kumar said as more people were returning to offices for work, many factories on the mainland have resumed full operations.

“On the mainland, all of the hotels are business hotels and rely a lot on factories.

“We have factories in Juru and Batu Kawan and outstation workers need to come in to restart certain parts of them.

“That’s the reason why we’ve been experiencing a good average occupancy over the last month, ” said Raj Kumar, who is also the general manager of The Light Hotel Penang in Seberang Jaya.

Overall, mainland hotels have been enjoying an average of 70% weekday occupancy rate and 40% on weekends, with an overall daily average of a 55% occupancy rate in March.

Commonly, business hotels experience better weekday occupancy over leisure hotels where traffic is higher on weekends.

Raj Kumar said in general, hotels in Penang could be separated into three categories — beach hotels that are largely based in Batu Ferringhi, city and heritage hotels mainly in George Town and mainland hotels.

“Since the end of March, beach hotels have been experiencing better occupancy rates of 70% and above on weekends.

“All this is coming from the Penang market itself as many Penangites who usually travel to Kuala Lumpur or Langkawi for holidays are now spending their money here.

“During the weekdays, it has been a struggle with occupancy at an average of 30% to 40%, ” he said.

Business and heritage hotels in the city have been hit the hardest.

“Penang people aren’t very interested to stay and see the heritage because they’ve already seen it.

“Also, business hotels rely on conferences, business travellers and government events which come from an outside Penang market segment.

“On average, business hotels have been looking at a 30% to 35% daily occupancy or less, ” Raj Kumar said.

There are signs, however, of light at the end of the tunnel with more weddings and events being planned and scheduled later this year.

“With more people getting vaccinated against Covid-19, we do ultimately expect more freedom in movement and social distancing restrictions.

“We predict that things will really start to improve in the hotel industry after Ramadan, ” he said.

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