With another long weekend this festive period, tour guides and other local tourism players have geared up for brisk business with a surge in bookings for their services.
Penang Tourist Guides Association (PTGA) president Clement Liang said many tour guides and travel agencies were getting more requests for tour services, especially on long weekends.
“With more cruise arrivals, it is definitely a plus for local tourism growth.
“As we transition to the Covid-19 endemic stage, tourists prefer smaller tour groups. All tour guides have different target groups. I normally bring smaller tour groups of fewer than 15 who are interested in history and heritage.
“We are also waiting for China’s borders to reopen as the Chinese groups are one of our largest overseas tourists,” said Liang, 60, who is also a history researcher.
Tour guide Ong Theng Khoon, 40, said he was happy that international tourists were finally back after a two-year hiatus.
“I am grateful that tourists, especially those on international cruises, are back. We are receiving about 50% of the pre-pandemic number of tourists, which is a good sign,” said Ong, who took a group of 27 tourists from Singapore for a round-island trip a couple of days ago, after receiving them at Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal.
“We offer small group tours of between six and 10 people for quality tourism, besides ensuring our customers’ safety and good health.
“As for local tourists, they prefer to explore Penang on their own as they usually have a list of to-eat and to-visit attractions,” she said.
Chin added that with more frequent international cruise arrivals, there should be better coordination between the cruise and ground operators.
“We are aware of the cruise arrivals but we will not know how many tour packages are sold on the cruise until later. Many of the guides have to wait for information from the operators, which usually comes quite last minute,” she said.
Retired businesswoman Carol Tan, 61, was one of 3,325 passengers from Singapore who arrived in Penang several days ago on the Resorts World Cruises’ Genting Dream after two years of Covid-19 restrictions that prevented the arrival of large cruise ships to Malaysia.
“It has been about five years since we last visited Penang,” said Tan, who added that as her 92-year-old mother is on a wheelchair, going on a cruise is easier than flying. “We are on a cruise with 12 family members and friends,” she said.
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