GEORGE TOWN – Those itching for Penang nasi kandar and char kuey teow may have to hold off their trip to the state, as its locals are on a social media “campaign” to ward off domestic tourists.
Several memes and comments have surfaced on Facebook asking those intending to visit “not come” and that “tourists are not welcomed – yet”. Some jested that Penang is “closed” as their favourite hawker stalls are not opened and there is “nothing new” on the island.
Others were angry about the reopening of state borders – the Covid-19 cases in Penang were still high with ICU beds at 83.3%. Just as people are free to move around within the country, technical problems at the PLUS toll caused heavy traffic jams from Permatang Pauh and Juru towards the Penang bridge.
In terms of the readiness of Penang to receive domestic tourists, Malaysia Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang Chapter chairman Raj Kumar told The Vibes that it all depends on the measures taken individually. “It is not about whether it is safe or not. If you have taken all the measures, then yes, it is safe.
“People are dying because businesses are dying, too. “I think it is time we point a finger to ourselves and ask, are we doing enough? That is how we protect ourselves and, in turn, protect others.”
Penang State Executive Councillor for Tourism and Creative Economy (Petace) Yeoh Soon Hin said that the state is ready to welcome as many as 50,000 visitors this coming weekend now that state borders are open again.
Hotels are expected to see an increase in hotel occupancy rates of between 60% to 70% this weekend. Tourists will be able to enjoy visiting the many attractions that have been opened to the public since October 1.
Speaking at a press conference today after announcing an online Penang International Travel Exchange (PITE) event happening later this month, Yeoh said that all operators have been careful and diligent when it comes to SOP compliance for the health and safety of their visitors.
He added that awareness campaigns will continue. “About 90% of the attractions are expected to open by the middle of this month as most of their staff will have been fully vaccinated by then,” he said.
“We are confident our tourism sector will bounce back after interstate travel resumed this week,” he said.