Penang hotels all smiles but not those in Langkawi


Fun in the sun: Tourists enjoying some of the water sports activities at Batu Ferringhi. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Most beach hotels here are set to see an influx of regular visitors from European countries in the coming months.

Some hotels, including Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, and Golden Sands Resort, are expected to hit 100% occupancy rate from December to February next year.

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Its communications director Datuk Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman said this would be the best period when returning guests are expected to stay for a month or two.

“Some of them who made friends at the hotel during their previous stay are now coming back. They are from different countries but decided to coordinate their trips.

“For now, our rooms are 88% to 90% booked for December and January. The figure is increasing every day. We are hoping to reach 100% at some point during that period. We expect next month to be a busy month for both hotels,” he said.

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Suleiman said November had surpassed its forecast of 75%, with occupancy rate recorded at 85%, adding that ratio of local and foreign guests was now 50:50.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang chapter chairman Tony Goh said the occupancy rate looked encouraging for beach hotels this festive season.

“We expect to hit 100% on some days, especially on New Year’s Eve. Hotels that cater primarily to domestic market is still on the average but, we expect things to pick up the last-minute,” he said.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) national vice-president Datuk Khoo Boo Lim said beach resorts along the popular Batu Ferringhi tourist belt would see occupancy rates rise during the year-end break.

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In Langkawi, Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Kedah and Perlis chapter chairman Eugene Dass said hotel bookings there were not as good as previous years.

“There are a few reasons, including the ferry frequency and fewer direct flights to the holiday island.

“There were days when some hotels had 80% occupancy rate, but most hotels have now only secured a 60% rate this year-end,” he said.

However, Eugene said things were looking up. He said the holiday island needed a ratio of 60% international and 40% local travellers to give the tourism industry here a boost.

“With the visa-free travel for Chinese tourists, we will be able to achieve the targeted 60% international tourists. But the figure for local tourists has been dampened by irregular ferry service.

“Although the tourist arrival will not be that of pre-pandemic times, we are optimistic for 2024,” he said, adding that the association had been constantly in talks with airlines and the Kedah government on ways to revive tourism in Langkawi.

It was earlier reported that the “Jewel of Kedah” is losing its shine – the number of visitors to Langkawi has been shrinking since September, which means the island is likely to miss its targeted visitor arrivals this year by at least half a million.

Since September, the island famed for its Mahsuri legend, saw a month-on-month drop of almost 20% compared with last year. The statistics were revealed to The Star by a source in the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada).

These monthly tabulations comprised arrivals at the jetty, marinas, airport and sea port in Langkawi, said the source.

Meanwhile, Pangkor Island Hotel and Resort Development Association chairman Mohd Zamzuri Suid said more could be done to improve the facilities on Pangkor Island. He said there were some issues with the utility supplies on the island that needed to be addressed, especially with Visit Perak Year 2024 looming.

“There were incidents of blackout and the water pressure is sometimes low and slow, and some resorts were affected.

“Some premises did not have water for up to five hours or half a day,” he said when contacted.

He added that Internet connectivity was another issue, especially at Teluk Nipah.

“These shortcomings must to be resolved,” he added.

Mohd Zamzuri said he also hoped to see the beaches on the island installed with lights to brighten the area at night.

“We want to create a trend of bright beaches here, creating a nice place to hang out.

Zamzuri said there had been an increase in visitors to the island since the start of the year.

“The island’s duty free status has helped,” he added.

Perak infrastructure, energy, water and public transportation committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said the water pressure problem occurred at Teluk Nipah.

“It happens during peak period like festive seasons and public holidays at certain hours.

“There are a lot of hotels or resorts that do not have reserve tanks to keep a minimum day’s worth of water. The Perak Water Board is trying to resolve this matter,” he said.

As for the complaints on blackouts, Mohammad Nizar said Tenaga Nasional Bhd had not received any complaints from hoteliers on the island.

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