Tourism industry bearing brunt of the outbreak

Worrying sight: The usually packed Chew Jetty in George Town is now empty as there is a drop in travellers visiting the state’s tourist spots.

GEORGE TOWN: The tourism industry in Penang is bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 outbreak as popular hawker spots and hotels are seeing a drop in customers.

One such hawker spot was the Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul in Lebuh Keng Kwee here, where foreign and local tourists alike would make a beeline for the stall daily.

Owner Tan Chong Kim, 61, said the stall has been left “deserted” with only a few patrons waiting to have a taste of their famous cendol since the outbreak.

“It was already bad for me with the current economic situation in the country being stagnant, but with the spread of Covid-19, things became worse.

“Since the outbreak, business has dropped significantly. It is a normal sight to have a long line here, but since the outbreak, we have been receiving fewer customers.

“We used to have Chinese, Singaporean and Indonesian tourists coming over here in big groups. Most of my customers are also locals, including those who come from other states in the country,” he said, adding that his business has dropped by about 60%.

Saik Kong Leong, 30, who sells traditional toast bread in a shop near the famous cendol stall, also shared the same sentiment and expressed worry over the situation.

Taking precaution: Staff of Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul wearing face masks  as they serve customer at their stall in Lebuh Keng Kwee, Penang.Taking precaution: Staff of Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul wearing face masks as they serve customer at their stall in Lebuh Keng Kwee, Penang.

“Last time before all this happened, we were always busy as many customers will dropped by our shop,” he said.

“But now, fewer people visiting and it is all because of the virus.”

Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Hotels Penang chapter chairman Khoo Boo Lim said among the wishlist of hotels in Penang was for the Federal Government to review the tourism tax imposed on the hotel industry.

Khoo said the industry has requested the Finance Ministry to review the existing rate of RM10 per room per night to a sum of RM1 per room per night to stimulate foreign tourist arrivals into the country up to December 2020.“This review will not only lessen the burden of inbound tourists, particularly budget travellers but also project Malaysia as a tourist-friendly destination,” he said.

Khoo said the association also wants the Federal Government to ease the burden of the hotels on utilities commitment with 24-hour operation.

He said the hotel industry is seeking government intervention to instruct 10% discount on water bills for hotels and 15% discount on electricity bills effective February 2020.“We would also like to apply for industry tariff instead of standard commercial tariff, recognising the tourism industry’s contribution to the country,” he said.

Khoo added that the association also wants the Federal Government to encourage the government sector to hold seminars and functions at hotels in Penang.

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covid-19 , coronavirus , outbreak , China , tourism , economy


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