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Penang beach hotels eye 60pc occupancy rate

Hotels in Penang Are Anticipating busier days ahead when tourists return with the lifting of the interstate travel ban in the middle of this month.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang chairman K. Raj Kumar said hotels, particularly beach hotels, expect at least 60 per cent occupancy after Oct 15.

He said business at most beach hotels had not picked up, with occupancy hovering between 30 and 40 per cent last weekend, with only one or two establishments managing more than 50 per cent.

"By mid-October, we are confident that more people will start travelling again as the number of fully vaccinated people will have reached more than 80 per cent.

"Of course, all this will be done with rigid standard operating procedures (SOP) in place. Having said that, hotels in Penang are ready to welcome customers, albeit with greater caution and care in terms of capacity.

"Most of them would like to do at least 50 per cent capacity of whatever they have, either function room, coffee house or even their guest rooms.

"While the SOP needs to be looked after, at the same time we also need the hotel business to move forward," he told the New Straits Times.

Raj Kumar said hotels in the state had depended on business travellers and meal takeaways during the pandemic.

"Now that the government has relaxed the rules, including organising events with 50 per cent capacity, we are confident that demand will increase in the second half of this month.

"Furthermore, more hotels will also be offering affordable room rates, free upgrades, stay and dining packages, as well as flexible cancellation policies to attract guests," he added.

Raj Kumar said hotels in the state were also expecting more government bodies, as compared with the private sector, to support the tourism industry, especially in organising meetings and seminars on a bigger scale, while adhering to the SOP.

"All of this will give the public more confidence as cases in Penang gradually reduce and almost all economic sectors reopen. I think self-awareness, self-care and preparedness are more obvious among the public for the continuity of our lives and the economy. 

"We can learn from our neighbours like Singapore and Thailand for instance."

He said it was good that the government saw the importance of the tourism industry, and with a large percentage of people fully vaccinated, more people would feel confident and secure.

"One cannot do much staying in a hotel only, as previously the rules were stricter, with lockdowns and very few spots and eateries open, plus with no dine-in facilities. A lot of surrounding factors play an important role in hotel occupancy. With more youth and children also getting vaccinated, parents are less worried.

"Hoteliers are looking forward to better days," he added.

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