Where are the Chinese visitors?

Deal hunting: Visitors looking for the best bargains to suit their travel needs at the Penang MATTA Fair 2023 held at the Setia Spice Arena in Bayan Lepas. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

Crowd is nowhere to be seen despite it being the ‘Golden Week’ in China

GEORGE TOWN: Chinese tourists are conspicuously missing here in Penang this time even though it is the “Golden Week” back in China now.Angel Tours Sdn Bhd Director Peter Leong said the number of tourists from China visiting Malaysia has dropped lately compared to before the pandemic.

“They still come here, but the number is not as big as before,” he said when met during the Penang Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair 2023 at the Setia Spice Arena in Bayan Lepas yesterday.

Leong said Chinese holidaymakers now preferred to go to Thailand or Singapore because these countries offered them visa-free travel.

“Normally during the low or normal season in China, these tourists would visit Genting Highlands, Melaka or Penang.

“Other destinations include Sabah and Sarawak.

“In Genting Highlands, their main attraction is the casino while in Melaka and Penang, they would visit the heritage enclaves to take pictures.

“For those who love the beaches and natural beauty, they would usually go to Sarawak or Sabah,” he said, adding that a Chinese tourist could spend RM6,000 per person on average here.

Another tour agency managing director Ang Chee Keong said his company was not focusing on inbound travel packages this year as they were concentrating more on outbound travels.

“Travelling packages for visitors from China during this Golden Week holidays are not easy to do as there is a lot of competition.

“Usually, there is a price war as every tour operator would want to get the deal,” he said.

The “Golden Week”, which begins on Sept 29, marks the annual week-long period that includes the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day celebration on Oct 1.

Recently, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing had said that the government was considering offering visa-free travel for Chinese tourists soon.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang chapter chairman Tony Goh said the occupancy rate was good for this weekend.

“Most hotels in George Town and Batu Feringghi are full, mostly with locals,” he said.

Meanwhile, MATTA Penang Chapter chairman Carolyn Leong said all the booths at the fair were taken up by travel agents, hotels and other stakeholders.

“We expect some 30,000 visitors to come for the two-day event. The crowd was quite good on the first day, and this is a good sign for our tourism industry,” she said.

Leong added that MATTA hoped to see sales between RM25mil and RM30mil during the fair which starts from 10am to 9pm.

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