GEORGE TOWN: Visitors to Penang swelled by 138% in the first half of this year, based on year-on-year airport arrival statistics.
The majority was from Indonesia, indicating that healthcare travel has become the major draw of Penang tourism.
“Indonesians have known about the quality of Penang’s healthcare standards for years,” said state tourism committee chairman Wong Hon Wai.
“Besides private hospitals, we accommodate them in many ways, including healthcare supply shops like pharmacies with personnel who are well versed in Bahasa Malaysia,” he told reporters here yesterday.
Earlier at the state assembly, Wong said that based on data provided by Penang International Airport for the first half of this year, there was a 138% increase in tourist arrivals compared with the corresponding period last year.These numbers did not include visitors arriving by land and sea routes, he told Heng Lee Lee (PH-Berapit) who had asked for data on Penang’s tourist arrivals.
“There were 1,682,094 tourists in the first half of 2023; the number in the first half of 2022 was 705,670 tourists. This shows more than a twofold increase,” he said.
Wong added that the most number of visitors were from Indonesia at 163,187, followed by Singapore (74,800) and China (15,602).
He also said there are now more direct flights to Penang.
“Positive developments can be seen with an increase in direct flights to Penang which include Xiamen Airlines (from Xiamen), Qatar Airlines (Doha) and Firefly (Bangkok).
“These direct flights are an important aspect to increasing the number of tourists to our state.
“More destinations and flight options will help attract tourists from various countries back to Penang,” he said.
He also said that flydubai, an Emirati government-owned airline in Dubai, had announced the start of direct flights from Dubai to Penang in February next year.