Penang to boost tourism sector reeling from SARS


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 04 May 2003

BY CHOONG KWEE KIM

PENANG: The state government will soon launch a massive promotion to boost the tourism sector now reeling from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis. 

Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon named the new Penang National Park in Pantai Acheh, Pulau Jerejak eco-tourism development, the Penang Hill bungalows now being renovated and the Penang Hill Railway which had an improved electrical system as attractions for the upcoming promotion. 

“These are ongoing jobs that need to be consolidated so that they are ready within the next few months to further attract tourists. 

“But while the SARS scare still looms, any promotional effort now is not going to bear fruit,” he said after launching a book in Chinese, Bloodshed in the Middle East: The Story of the Arabs and Jews, by Cheah See Kian. 

Dr Koh said the Government was using the lull period now to re-strategise its promotional packages and upgrade tourism products. 

He said tour agencies were the worst hit by SARS with tours reduced to between 10% and 20% while hotel occupancy rates had dropped to between 30% and 40% compared to the previous rate of between 50% and 70%. 

Although the electronic sector was also affected by SARS due to the postponement of decision-making trips overseas, Dr Koh said retrenchments in the manufacturing sector were not as severe as those in 2001. 

He said the retrenchment of 180 workers by Solectron Corp accounted for only a small percentage of the workforce in Malaysia.  

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