GEORGE TOWN: Thousands of tourists throng Penang island on New Year’s Day as the holiday season goes into full swing over the long weekend.
Although traffic was not congested, it was obvious holidaymakers were roaming the city, snapping pictures and looking for good food.
Vehicles bearing mostly outstation registration plates could be seen swarming Batu Ferringhi where tourists picnicked at the beach.
Architect Salman Lee, 35, said he chose to bring his family to Penang rather than elsewhere as the island was known for its many special places.
“Penang is an attractive place. My family likes it here and wants to spend the holidays at the beach, ” he said.
The attractive promotions of hotel rooms in Batu Ferringhi was another reason he brought his family over.
Many hotels in the beach area now offer cheap room prices to boost domestic tourism since the interstate travel ban was lifted by the government.
Another favourite place that was packed with tourists on New Year’s Day was Armenian Street in the heritage enclave.
Among them was factory worker Nursyafiqah Abdul Halim, 25, who came with her family from Teluk Intan.
“It is our first trip together after staying home for months. We decided to spend the long weekend here, ” she said.
Penang is her family’s favourite destination to spend their holidays every year.
However, not every tourism player seemed to be benefiting from the influx of domestic tourists.
Trishaw rider G. Annachi said although there were many tourists, it was hard for him to get customers.
“Most domestic tourists prefer to rent bicycles, ” he said.
Annachi said a fee of RM35 to RM40 for an hour’s ride on a trishaw could not beat a rental of RM10 to RM15 per day for a bicycle.
He added that the income of trishaw riders would only improve if foreign tourists were to come back.
Another tourist hotspot that got busy from 7am was the string of popular nasi kandar and roti canai stands at Transfer Road.
A check by The Star at the road found long queues of visitors waiting for a hearty Indian-Muslim breakfast.
The owner of one of the roti canai stalls, Shahjahan Abdul Hamid, 50, said customers were waiting at his stall from 7am and the crowd started to swell by 9am.
“Many of them came from out of the state and they made use of the long weekend by visiting Penang, ” he said.
He was glad that there was a team of Rela volunteers to help remind his customers of the physical distancing rule.
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