Penang abuzz with tourists

Packing in the crowds: Local tourists and holidaymakers enjoying their walk and ride during the school holidays in conjunction with Malaysia’s 66th National Day at Armenian Street in George Town, Penang. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Penang is abuzz with tourists, thanks to the school holidays and long National Day weekend.

Many workers are on leave today to enjoy a four-day break before resuming work next Monday. This spells good news for hospitality and tourism players across the state.

A check by The Star yesterday showed heavier than usual vehicular and foot traffic around popular attractions, eating places, shopping malls, parks and beaches.A late-morning downpour did not deter many from venturing out to go sightseeing, feasting or shopping once the skies cleared up.Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang chapter chairman Tony Goh said going by previous trends, many locals would have applied for leave today, enabling them to enjoy a long break before going back to work on Monday.

“And with children off from school, it is the perfect time for families to enjoy some cuti-cuti Malaysia.

“It’s a boon particularly for beach hotels. Most are reporting occupancy rates of between 80% and 100% with leisure travellers being their main demographic,” he said.

While city hotels see a reduction in corporate and business travellers, this is made up for by visitors who want to stay within George Town for easier access to the city’s places of interest, said Goh.

Occupancy for such properties ranges between 60% and 80%.

“Overall, domestic travellers from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor make up the bulk of guests,” he said.

Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Penang communications director Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman said the resort saw a significant pick-up in occupancy compared to the 80% they get on average weekends.“We’re optimistic it will exceed 90% as many last-minute bookings are still coming in. The fact that most are local travellers is also highly encouraging as this indicates a growing interest in domestic travel,” he said.

He noted that Singaporeans are also a major demographic. Their school holidays start tomorrow and many have wasted no time in booking a trip to Penang.

“This year, we’ve noticed an increase in younger travellers. We believe that many are interested in exploring George Town’s culinary and cultural charms,” Suleiman added.

Over at The Granite Luxury Hotel, the check-ins were brisk as it reported a jump in occupancy from the average 70% on normal weekends to almost 90% this weekend.

Corporate communications manager of the property’s parent company M Summit Group, Ng Su-Ann said their guests are mostly local families on leisure travel and some from Singapore.

“The stars have definitely aligned this weekend with our local school holidays, Merdeka public holiday and the start of our southern neighbour’s school holidays all coinciding,” she said.

In Johor, hotels, especially those located within the Johor Baru city area and Desaru, are expecting to see occupancy rates of up to 80%.

MAH Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said that they expected to see both local and foreign tourists, in particular from Singapore.

“Our situation is quite unique with Merdeka being on a Thursday and Johor practising the Friday-Saturday weekend. This means it is a long weekend in the state.“In addition, it’s a public holiday in Singapore on Friday due to its presidential election, so Singaporeans will be coming over,” he said yesterday.

Teo agreed that with both the Malaysian and Singapore school holidays occurring the same time this weekend, hotels will record a high occupancy rate.

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penang , johor , hotels , national day , merdeka , long weekend


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