As Malaysia’s first state to boost a task force dedicated to mitigate
the socio-economic impacts of Covid-19, Penang is putting recovery of
the tourism industry at the forefront as it emerges from the pandemic
The Penang Tourism Economy Recovery Advisory Board (PETERAB),
together with the Tourism Penang Next Normal Taskforce, will work in
complimentary roles to “ensure that Penang takes the lead in state
tourism economy recovery efforts,” said Hon. Yeoh Soon Hin, Penang State
EXCO for Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage (PETACH).
PETERAB will propose economic considerations and financial
recommendations to restore Penang’s tourism powerhouse status, while
Tourism Penang Next Normal Taskforce will enforce safety and security
measures for tourists and employees.
Both teams are headed by a cross section of Penang's industry
veterans and entrepreneurs, including Y.Bhg. Datuk Hamzah bin Rahmat,
Y.Bhg Dato’ Seri R. Arunasalam a/I.V Ramasamy, Y.Bhg Dato’ Syed Mohamad
Aidid bin Syed Murtaza, Y.Bhg Dato’ Danny Goon, as well as Professor Dr.
Lean Hooi Hooi.
Travel Weekly Asia understands that since February when the effects
of the pandemic started to unravel, PETACH has been engaging travel
agents and seeking feedback from them to integrate into the state’s
Tourism Recovery Action Plan.
Focusing on immediate, short and long term plans for state recovery,
local agents have routinely been engaged at roundtable sessions to be
kept abreast on industry developments, as well as introducing special
incentives for domestic travellers.
At the national level, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel
Agents as well as Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association – part of the
Tourism Penang Next Normal Taskforce – have also been roped in to assist
in the industry transition to align safety and security measures.
Penang has set up a task force dedicated to mitigating the socio-economic impact of Covid-19. Credit: Hon. Yeoh Soon Hin
Target markets: Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia
Penang has done well to control the pandemic, with the state
government implementing the Gradual Recovery Strategy and achieving
green zone status as of 17 June.
Speaking to Travel Weekly Asia, Hon. Yeoh said that the current plan
is to focus on domestic tourism in the short term by wooing travellers
from neighbouring states.
Believing that it could be a “feasible gradual approach to lift the
ban on international travelling by allowing international travelling
between green zone countries,” PETERAB has also written to the Ministry
of Tourism to propose the Federal Government to explore this idea, said
“This could be a viable solution to begin with, rather than opening
all our borders at once and risking transmission again- which will bring
us back to square one and brought to waste the efforts to contain the
virus which took us months long.”
“Opening the borders – even if they’re travel bubbles – should be top
priority of the ASEAN governments…its population is over 600 million
and will be a great generator for domestic ASEAN tourism to restart
tourism,” added Datuk Hamzah.
"International arrivals are only expected to trickle in the last
quarter of the year if the travel bubbles initiated materialise,” he
When international flights are allowed again, the first key target
markets include Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia since “visitors from
these countries contribute significantly to Penang and Malaysia
annually…[with] Indonesians making the bulk of medical tourism
visitors,” said Hon. Yeoh.