Penang moves to save tourism sector in ‘next’ normal

Penang moves to save tourism sector in ‘next’ normal

GEORGE TOWN: The travel trade industry, which among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing movement control order, may see some hotels and other establishments in Penang closing.

State think-tank Penang Institute, in a crisis assessment, expects the tourism sector here to slide into the negative range.

In view of this, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (pix) told a virtual tourism round table session today that the state wants to ensure its resilience by re-adapting the state’s institutions, economy and society to the new normal.

For starters, the state is looking into waiving hotel taxes for the coming six months in order to support the industry through these trying times, he said.

Chow said the 3Cs strategy of control, communication and contain had resulted in Penang consistently having the second lowest number of Covid-19 cases per capita in the country after Kedah.

As the state effectively controls its exposure to the virus, Chow said the next step is to unveil the strategy for the next normal in Penang.

The state government has instructed InvestPenang, its investment arm, to form a Penang Economic Next Normal Taskforce to identify future economic trends and to design a strategy to attract new investments to the state.

“Tourism is undeniably a key sector. We are proud to be one of Malaysia’s foremost tourist destinations. We are proud to offer a wide spectrum of tourism products: from our world-famous street food, to our cherished heritage, from eco-tourism exploring our hills and seas, to medical tourism because of the confidence in Penang’s healthcare system, from our rich art, culture and tradition warmed by the gentle Penang weather and gentler Penang smiles to our state-of-the-art, modern meeting and conference facilities,“ Chow said.

The tourism sector in Penang hires more than 150,000 workers and is worth RM9 billion in value-added, operating in more than 35,700 business establishments.

Penang Institute in its latest assessment report observed that the services sector which includes tourism will be the worst hit by this pandemic.

Chow, who will chair the Tourism Penang Next Normal Taskforce assured the travel trade community that they will have the undivided attention of the top leaders because the sector is a crucial element of Penang’s economy.

While the state government is keen to assist, industry players must also adapt to the next normal.

“Business as usual will not do anymore. Please forget about attracting crowds of people in the next three to six months if not longer. Not only Malaysia is in a semi-lockdown, most of the governments in the world are banning their citizens from travelling abroad for fear of them catching the virus and causing another infection chain when they return to their home country.”

Hence, Chow considers changing the business model as crucial to survive.

Source: The Sun Daily

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