GEORGE TOWN: There is a need for better infrastructure and amenities to cater to the surge in the number of cruise tourists here, such as pedestrian crossings, more rubbish bins and parking spaces, say tour groups.
Penang Tourist Guides Association (PTGA) president Clement Liang (pic) said the cruises brought business back to Penang and tourists liked to visit places such as Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si Temple.
“It has helped our tour guides as their service is now needed.
“Some do not want guides as they prefer to take it easy and walk around but they have meals here which has helped the hawkers,” he said.
However, Liang said there was a need to improve public facilities to better cater for tourists and locals in general.
“There needs to be more parking spaces in George Town, especially for tour buses, as there is no space for them to park.
“When these buses stop to pick up or drop off passengers, this leads to parts of a road being blocked,” he added.
Liang said there was also the need for more pedestrian crossings along Weld Quay as it was dangerous for tourists to cross the road.
“There is one but it is too far. Usually, the guides have to stop traffic to help them cross, especially near Chew Jetty.
“More such crossings should be installed along Weld Quay as it is difficult to simply stop the traffic and also hazardous for people to cross the road randomly,” he said.
Liang also pointed to the low hygiene standards at public toilets here.
“Maybe more public toilets could be built in the area, not just for tourists but locals as well,” he added.
Another issue that needs to be looked into is having more rubbish bins in George Town.
“Most are overflowing with rubbish which is not appealing or hygienic. Having more bins will make a difference,” he said.
Association of Tourist Attractions Penang (Atap) chairman Ch’ng Huck Theng said cruise tourists helped boost Penang’s tourism sector.
He said it was therefore important for the state to provide a more experiential tourism that was unique to tourists.
“We need to evolve to meet the likes of the new generation of tourists. We need new and exciting tourism products that can connect with them.
“These can be in the form of arts, heritage and culture in a more inclusive and engaging way.
“Our currency is low, our weather is perfect and Penangites are wonderful people who speak many languages, we should not lose out,” he added.
Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm chief executive officer Joseph Goh said they benefited from the return of cruises as Entopia was part of the packages offered to tourists.
“The local agents work with the cruises to offer these packages.
“When travellers pick certain packages, it includes a visit here and that has increased the number of foreign visitors here.
“Compared to last year, our international numbers has doubled but it is still 20% down from pre-pandemic days,” he added.
Goh said the one thing that needed to be improved was the route from Batu Ferringhi to Teluk Bahang.
“We are located in Teluk Bahang which experiences congestion and one way to improve this is to fix the road,” he said.