Tourism boost for Penang

GEORGE TOWN: Penang can look forward to more tourism dollars with the resumption of direct flights from China beginning today.

State tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said 128 passengers would be arriving in Penang today from Guangzhou.

“China has the highest outbound tourism expenditure and Penang is proud to have resumed this direct flight.

“It will definitely boost our local economy and open up new markets that would benefit our local business communities.

“I believe cities and regions that offer direct flights can gain a competitive advantage over other destinations in the South-East Asia region that require travellers to make multiple connecting flights.

“This can definitely help attract more visitors,” he said yesterday.

Malaysian Association of Hotels vice-president Datuk Khoo Boo Lim said from a hotelier’s perspective, they were always open to more guests.

“We have visitors from Europe and the United States here and we have been waiting for flights to resume from China.

“We are looking forward to them coming back as occupancy has been low lately despite the school holidays.

“This is probably because many families had travelled here when things resumed earlier, so maybe now they are visiting other states,” he said.

Khoo said there were many projects in Penang carried out by Chinese businessmen, so it was expected that the travellers might be here for business first rather than leisure.

At a local hotel situated by the beach, its general manager Ong Hai Leong said they received some bookings from Chinese visitors for March.

“For now, it is only a 5% increase in occupancy,” he said.

G Hotel communications director Christina Tan said while some other hotels might be benefiting from their return, for now, there were not many changes in their bookings.

“We have not received any bookings from Chinese guests as of now,” she said.

Swiss Garden Beach Resort Kuantan sales and marketing director Linda Evelyn Wong said the number of guests was on the rise, with many enquiries and bookings.

“With the school holidays still ongoing, we are optimistic that business will pick up ahead of the fasting month and during the Hari Raya celebrations.

“We are also offering various room packages and food promotions at a special rate, including for corporate stays and team-building events,” she said.

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