Missing the tourism ringgit

Shoppers’ delight: Visitors checking out some souvenir items at Cannon Square in George Town. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Now that the country’s borders are reopening in about two weeks’ time, traders are doing everything they can to ensure they don’t miss out on the bountiful returns in tourism ringgit.

Anticipating an influx of tourists, especially those from China, Hong Kong and Singapore, they have either stocked up distinctive souvenirs, or planned to bring down their prices in welcoming the foreign holidaymakers.

Kylie Lee, who runs a souvenir and clothing shop along Lebuh Armenian, said her main clientele have always been from China, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, our customers were mostly foreign travellers although we do have local customers as well. We have our own brand of products that are of higher-end quality.

“We closed for almost two years since the pandemic began and only reopened recently,” she said when met at her store.

Lee said since she planned to offer big discounts to customers since she still has ample stock for the products.

“Right now, we are not thinking of making high profits. Rather, we just want to get back our investments that have been stuck for two years,” said Lee, whose products like clothes, bags, keychains and many other items are well sought after by holidaymakers.

Another trader, who wished to be known as Madam Tan, said the best tourism ringgit value would always come from international arrivals.

“I am excited that the borders will reopen to foreign tourists again as they are always our main market. Locals do not really buy Penang themed t-shirts or mementos. It is those who want to buy a gift for friends or family back home that buy our souvenirs.

“They like our batik prints as well, which gives us good business,” said Tan, who sells Penang themed clothes and souvenirs at her shop in George Town.

Like most others in the tourism spots, Tan plans to clear her stocks first before ordering new items.

“I might bring in more batik shirts next month as there is always a demand for the prints.

“We cleaned the shop before we reopened recently, but we will probably spruce it up again right before the reopening of the borders.

“Right now, I am the only one manning the shop. If we see an influx in customers, I will hire people then,” she said.

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