THE architectural facade at the Weld Quay entry point for cruises to Penang is slated for a change with two new four-star hotels coming up there.
State Tourism Development and Environment Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow said construction of the two hotels at the site of Wisma Kastam and Boustead along Weld Quay was expected to start this year.
Planning permission for the hotel at Wisma Kastam has been approved and it is now at the building plans approval stage while plans for the hotel at Boustead are also ready for approval, he told newsmen during the welcome reception for the 550 passengers of the Gemini cruise at Tanjung City Marina yesterday.
The hotels at Weld Quay and two other new ones coming up at Queensbay and Juru Auto City will create over 1,000 hotel rooms after they are completed in the next 12 to 18 months.
Teng said the Penang Municipal Council had also written to owners of buildings urging them to spruce up their pro- perties to make them presentable for Visit Malaysia Year 2007.
He said the state had last month set up a Cruise Tourism Committee, chaired by him, to better coordinate with cruise operators and ground handlers so as to help make the port here a more attractive place of call for cruise liners.
Gemini and Virgo cruises have indicated they will be making 75 calls on Penang from this month till March 2008, bringing between 600 and 2,600 passengers during each visit, Teng said, adding this was an encouraging increase compared with 70 visits last year and 40 in 2005.
He also said that passengers of cruise liners were now landing at Tanjung City Marina as a temporary measure until the construction of the international cruise terminal at Swettenham Pier and extension of the jetty there was completed by the end of 2008.
During the welcome reception yesterday, passengers of Gemini cruise, who were mostly from Australia and New Zealand, were garlanded with bead necklaces, presented with bunga telur and treated to kompang and chingay performances.
Australian Trevor Dickinson, 58, said he was happy to be back in Penang which he had frequently visited some 30 years ago when he was working with the Australian Navy based in Singapore.
I remember Penang as a historic place with good food, nice people and climate, said Dickinson who came with his wife and friends.
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