Giving Penang a boost to woo more visitors

PETALING JAYA: A combination of good food, interesting sights and excellent services makes Penang one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

As the country begins to reopen the gates to foreign visitors, Penang is also looking to introduce new attractions and enhance existing facilities, while maintaining health safety standards, to help maintain its position on the A-List of tourist spots.

State executive councillor for tourism and creative economy Yeoh Soon Hin said Penang has expanded its partnership with Travel Safe Alliance Malaysia to regain confidence of the travel market on safety aspects and hygiene.

“Steps have also been taken to benchmark travel safety. This is the right call to make post-Covid-19 so that we can also help to improve the situation for those who had suffered economically because of the lockdown,” he told theSun.

Yeoh was responding to a recent report that CNN Travel has listed Penang as one of the top places to visit this year.

Other destinations on the list are Antigua and Barbuda, Oslo, Cape Breton, Colombo and Dijon.

The report stated that the Covid-19 pandemic had left many longing for the “epic culinary-focused journeys” that Penang has to offer.

Yeoh said the state has already put in place proper safety measures to welcome more visitors this year.

“While tourism is our path to recovery, we must also be very cautious. This is responsible tourism.”

Yeoh added various events planned for 2020 but had to be postponed due to Covid-19, would be held this year.

“Our tourism recovery action plan has successfully helped us overcome the impact of the pandemic. The state has given financial aid to trishaw riders, tourist guides, hawkers and those in vulnerable communities.”

The upgrading of the Penang International Airport and the Unesco endorsement for the biodiversity and rich natural heritage of Penang Hill are also expected to boost tourist arrivals.

Penang Tourist Guides Association vice-president Clement Liang said since food has become a major attraction for Penang, hygiene has become a top priority.

“There are many places where we can get very tasty food, like fresh seafood, at reasonable prices,” he said, adding that there are also many archaeological and historical sites, as well as natural heritage areas to visit. “And they are just a short distance from the city.”

Liang said visitors should also be assured of affordable and clean accommodation.

Penang Hill, which was singled out by CNN Travel as choice location for a holiday, is adding a new attraction – the Gallery@Edgecliff – to its list of tourist draws.

Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) said the gallery, which will be opened to the public in the first quarter of this year, is the second conservation project on the hill.

It will serve as an information and education centre to create awareness and instil an appreciation for the cultural heritage and biodiversity of the hill resort, as well as the funicular railway system.

It has introduced the “JustQ”, or e-boarding system to enable visitors to plan and coordinate their visit to the hill.

The PHC said the objective is to make Penang Hill the resort of choice not only in Malaysia but the region as well.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on tourist arrivals in Penang Hill.

“But we are optimistic that there will be more visitors this year,” it added.

Penang Hill is adding a new attraction – the Gallery@Edgecliff – to its list of tourist draws. The gallery will be opened to the public in first quarter of this year. – BERNAMAPIX

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