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The Kek Lok Si Temple is all decorated for the Chinese New Year celebration in George Town. NSTP/MIKAIL ONG

DEAR Penang guests and returnees for Chinese New Year, much has been said about bottlenecks, packed restaurants and craziness that descend on this island when the holidays are here.

Some have even gone to the extent, albeit jokingly, to tell people not to come to Penang, as hawkers, shopping malls and tourist attractions will be closed over the Chinese New Year break.

Can you blame them when all we are faced with during every festive period are traffic jams, crowded beaches, packed shopping malls and eateries, and garbage thrown all over the place? Haphazard parking in our already-narrow streets become an even worse nightmare for all.

These days, locals rest in their homes and don’t venture out to enjoy peace and quiet (thanks to Netflix and Grab Food), while some leave town.

We are not here to tell you to keep away from Penang and head elsewhere this year. It is, after all, Visit Malaysia Year 2020 and every guest and returnee deserves a warm and sincere ‘Selamat Datang ke Pulau Pinang’ (welcome to Penang) greeting.

Here are suggestions to a better time in Penang, while you do your bit to boost the local economy:

LET’S start with supporting the gig economy and helping those who are part of its supply chain.

How about taking ride-shares to your destinations on the island and reducing your carbon footprint? Food delivery drivers from Grab Food, Foodpanda and DeliveryEat will not only thank you for keeping them busy, but so too participating restaurants (including your favourite char kuay teow and nasi kandar eateries, stalls and hawker centres), which will be more than happy to whip up your favourite Penang dish and have them sent over.

TOcontinue keeping cars off the road, why not hop onto a Rapid Penang bus to get to your shopping or eating destination? The Penang Hop-on Hop-off buses are another great way to cover the island and check out its beaches and other natural and heritage attractions.

HOWabout taking a drive to Seberang Prai and sampling its delicious food in Bukit Tambun, Simpang Ampat, Bukit Mertajam, Butterworth and Batu Kawan? and,

LIMITLESSproperty investment opportunities on the island and mainland are yours should you choose to invest in a holiday or retirement home.

International names in property development - like Berjaya Land, Eastern & Oriental Bhd, SP Setia, IJM and Eco World - have established their presence in the state, alongside homegrown and established names, such as Asas Dunia, Aspen Group, Boon Siew Group, Ivory Properties Group, Hunza Properties and Tambun Indah.

Safe travels, enjoy our beautiful state and do your bit to ensure that we remain the holiday and living destination of choice, by being responsible visitors and travellers.

Happy Lunar New Year and welcome home to Penang, all Penang Lang (Penangites).

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