Chinese restaurants report a boom in business

PETALING JAYA: Chinese restaurants are experiencing a roaring start to the Year of the Dragon, with operators reporting business levels reaching 90% of pre-pandemic levels during the recent festive holiday week.

Alongside locals opting to dine in, the government’s introduction of a visa waiver for Chinese tourists since December has further fuelled the boost in business, according to restaurant owners.

Pan Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants and Chefs Association president Wong Teu Hoon said business has been exceptional this year, nearly reaching the levels of 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic

“From Feb 9 until now, local customers provided over 70% of the business while Chinese tourists contributed more than 20% of it. The visa waiver has certainly given the local food and beverage industry a welcome boost,” he said when contacted.

Wong also observed an influx of young people returning home to celebrate with family, resulting in increased orders for festive dishes. As the once-a-year occasion unfolds, customers exhibit greater generosity in their dining choices.

Wong, who is also the Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association president, said kopitiam outlets (traditional coffee shops) have also been doing well after a break.

“Unlike with Chinese restaurants, kopitiam operators opted for a break from Feb 9-13.

“But after reopening, they experienced a notable uptick in business, particularly among tourists seeking traditional Malaysian breakfasts,” he said.

Selangor and Federal Territory Ku Su Shin Chung Hung Restaurants Association deputy president Justin Hor agreed that business had almost reached pre-pandemic levels.

He attributed this, in part, to visa-free travel, with Chinese tourists often being invited by friends in Kuala Lumpur to dine at Chinese restaurants

Last December, Malaysia announced a 30-day visa-free initiative for tourists from China and India.

Hor said he has noticed a significant shift of people to the Klang Valley region.

“This influx has led to bustling malls and increased business for Chinese restaurants during the festive period,” he added.

Penang Koo Soo Kwong Choon Tong Restaurant and Tea Shop Association Chairman Vinah Yee reported no significant increase in reservations from Chinese tourists or visitors, possibly due to the hot weather in the northern region.

She, however, is optimistic and believes that more Chinese tourists will visit Penang in the near future.

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