WHILE Penang’s food, nature and beaches continued to pull in visitors, the George Town heritage enclave was rather devoid of the usual hustle and bustle seen in past holiday stretches.
There were sparse crowds over the weekend, with traders along Armenian Street claiming to see only 20% of the usual big crowds in the area.
Nevertheless, the traders are hopeful, believing the situation will improve in the coming weekends.
An accessories store owner who wanted to be known only as Jane, 45, said there were fewer groups of people visiting the heritage enclave since she reopened for business on Friday.
“Not many people passed by and I noticed only several families and friends.
“We thought a lot of people would come because it was earlier reported that over 50,000 visitors might be coming to Penang.
“But it looks like not many people are travelling at the moment.
“Nevertheless, it is only the first weekend since the state borders reopened last Monday.
“I am confident we can expect better days ahead,” she said.
Along the street, sales engineer Amirul Loganathan, 52, was spotted enjoying a stroll while sightseeing.
Amirul, who was visiting with 11 other family members, said he was surprised with the quiet atmosphere there.
“I have not brought my family out for months and we are all happy to be here this weekend.
“We will be staying over for two days, visiting tourist spots and enjoying the famous local food like nasi kandar.
“Although we expected to see more people in town, it seems rather quiet but I guess, we can enjoy ourselves a little more then.”
Meanwhile, at Chew Jetty in Weld Quay, businesses saw an average of 20 to 30 visitors a day since many resumed operations on Friday.
A check by The Star found that only five stores were open from the two rows of houses there.
Desserts store manager Angie Law, 35, said she sold fewer than five servings of desserts each day.
“All of the other stalls are still closed and as such, it is less lively here.
“Most of the outsiders who were renting premises from the owners here had closed down and moved their businesses elsewhere.
“The only ones remaining now are mainly residents who own the businesses.
“There are also those like me who have invested so much into our business that we cannot afford to close,” she said.
At another clothing store, a supervisor who wanted to be known as Chew, 65, said the jetty residents and businesses were facing a difficult time in deciding whether to welcome crowds or not.
“I stay here at Chew Jetty and I look after this store for a business owner who is renting this particular place.
“As a resident, I definitely do not want huge crowds visiting but if we deny visitors, businesses here will suffer.
“Thus, as a community, we do not actually deny visitors as all of us here know that other businesses need to earn a livelihood.
“We allow visitors here but we are not so keen on doing promotional activities to attract big crowds,” he said.
Elsewhere, it was a lively weekend for holiday-starved Malaysians, as the beaches along the tourism belt of Batu Ferringhi were busy with plenty of water sports and family activities.
There were also many people going for scenic rides in the funicular train up Penang Hill.