Penang tourism falls hard as COVID-19 cases in Malaysia spike

Penang tourism falls hard as COVID-19 cases in Malaysia spike

GEORGE TOWN: The tourism sector in Penang has been taking heavy blows as the number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia significantly increased.

Penang chairman of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA),  Vergis Mathews told Bernama that the number of domestic tourists coming to Penang of late had been “next to nil”.

He said the last three months of the year was expected to see the most number of visitors and tourists coming to Penang.

“However, with the COVID-19 pandemic worsening nationwide, I fear that this will be the worst time for the tourism industry.

“The state government has done a significant job in ensuring the tourism sector in Penang is safe for visitors and tourists to travel and experience in a responsible manner.

“Even so, everyone in Malaysia must take this matter seriously and should not let our guards down anywhere at any time. 

“Malaysia has shown that it is capable of handling the COVID-19 pandemic very well in the early stage and we should have stayed that way and the public will fully adapt to the new norm,” he said.

Mathews said the key tourism players in Penang should take the opportunity to revamp their facilities to ensure apt preparations to welcome back tourists once the pandemic shows signs of recovery.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Penang chapter of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), Khoo Boo Lim said that hotels in Penang had received numerous booking cancellations for rooms and events.

He said most of the cancellation requests were from callers in Kuala Lumpur, where the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) would be imposed from Oct 14 to 27.

“It has not been looking good for hoteliers in this period of time and we expect a drop of around 10 per cent in hotel occupancy in Penang,” he said.

He also said that netizens should refrain from spreading fake news on social media as this could cause unnecessary fear among the public and harm the tourism industry.