Tourism players are feeling the positive vibe with holidays around the corner

Open for business: Splash Out Langkawi is gearing up for the holiday crowd. The water theme park was closed due to the pandemic.

PETALING JAYA: Tourism industry players are gearing up to welcome fully vaccinated holidaymakers with the recent lifting of various restrictions ahead of the year-end holidays.

They, however, are keeping in mind the need to observe the standard operating procedure at all times.

Malaysian Association of Hotels chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said hotels already saw an increase in enquiries before the interstate travel announcement, with Langkawi being the country’s pilot travel bubble.

Yap said the first weekend after the reopening of interstate travel saw an increase in crowd and bookings.

“This may be due to pent-up demand and is expected to normalise,” he said, noting that prior to the reopening of interstate travel, average occupancy was at 20% to 25%, with Kuala Lumpur at about 25% and Penang in single digit occupancy.

“With the reopening, overall average occupancy is expected to increase to 40%,” he said.

Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association president Uzaidi Udanis hoped to see more tourist rebounds in the coming months, describing the situation over the weekend as “revenge tourism”.

“Hotels have been receiving a lot of bookings with Tuesday (today) being a public holiday.

“This is a good start as hotels have not opened for the past 20 months,” he said, adding that hotels in Langkawi, Pangkor and Port Dickson are almost fully booked.

He urged the government to provide incentives for companies that allow four-day work week in Budget 2022 to help boost the tourism industry, noting that this was practised in some European countries.

“People do not have to go on holidays during long weekends but can also go during weekdays,” he said.

Splash Out Langkawi executive director Hazlan Halim said just like all other hospitality and leisure tourism players worldwide and in the country, their water theme park operations were also affected due to the long closure.

“However, we took this period to run scheduled maintenance and service works on the rides and attractions, as well as to conduct training programmes for the team members to ensure that we are all ready to welcome visitors as one of the key players in the hospitality and leisure industry in Langkawi.

“The government has made an excellent choice with the Langkawi travel bubble as this will in turn provide re-employment to all of those who lost their jobs when the pandemic started in March last year.

“With tourists returning and spending under the new norm, economic activities and the people’s livelihoods will gradually improve,” he said.

Hazlan also said their staff always place safety and security at the highest level in the day-to-day operations.

“Sanitisation is carried out regularly at the cafes, restaurants, facilities and public areas so that all guests and visitors will have peace of mind while enjoying a splashing good time with their families and loved ones,” he said, adding that special rates will also be given to those who walk in and students to support the travel bubble initiative.

Apple Vacations group managing director Datuk Seri Koh Yock Heng said they are now in the midst of reintroducing local travel packages including day trips to places like Sekinchan, Kuala Selangor, as well as Kuala Kurau, Mulu National Park, Sandakan and island tours.

“Holidaymakers can utilise the Tourism Malaysia Stimulus Domestic Tour Packages which comes with an e-voucher worth RM100 by placing bookings through e-commerce platform Shopee for a 2D1N stay at four- to five-star hotels involving 13 strategic island packages such as Langkawi, Pangkor and Redang.

“Things are starting to pick up with some encouraging bookings for popular resorts in Penang, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu,” Koh said, adding that they are also looking to promote and tie up with hotels, theme parks and tourist spots.

Director of sales and marketing for Swiss-Garden Hotel & Residences Genting Highlands Linda Evelyn Wong said they had been getting many enquiries and bookings over the weekend and ahead of the year-end holidays.

“We hope the people will take a break with their family to enjoy the cool ambience at this popular hill resort after almost two years of travel restrictions.

“There are various room packages and food promotions offered at a special rate, including for corporate stays and events,” she said.

Over at Deerland Park in Lanchang, Pahang, proprietor Abdullah Ahmad Mahmood said he can now look forward to welcoming more visitors with the reopening of state borders.

“Over the weekend, we had a record number of visitors, around 600 people, compared to less than half the figure when we first resumed operations two weeks ago.

“The reopening of the National Elephant Conservation Centre in Kuala Gandah also contributed to more visitors, especially those from the Klang Valley coming here and into the state,” he said.

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