GEORGE TOWN, April 22 — Penang has set up a special taskforce to formulate a strategy to revive the state’s tourism industry in the “next normal” after the movement control order (MCO), said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
He said the taskforce will gather views from tourism stakeholders in the state so that they could come up with a solution to help the industry that is among the worst-hit by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“I will chair the taskforce while tourism, arts, culture and heritage exco Yeoh Soon Hin will be vice chairman of the taskforce,” he said.
The Penang Global Tourism will be the secretariat for the taskforce.
He said the taskforce will hold an online roundtable session with industry stakeholders this Saturday to discuss the effects of the pandemic on the sector.
Chow said the service industry accounts for 49 per cent of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), which is more than the manufacturing industry of 46 per cent.
“The tourism industry is part of the services sector and this included our street food that is world-renowned,” he said.
The state’s tourism industry covers recreational events, arts and culture, medical tourism, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) and the hospitality industry such as hotels and homestays.
He said there are over 300,000 people employed in the services sector in Penang and about half of this are in the tourism industry.
Chow cited an analysis by the state’s think tank, Penang Institute, which stated that 99 per cent of the services sector in Penang is under the small medium enterprises (SME) category.
“It was found that the services sector under the SME category was the most affected due to the pandemic,” he said.
He said the analysis also reported that 74.9 per cent of the SMEs in the arts, entertainment and recreational sub-sector are micro businesses with high economic risks.
He said this was why the state decided to set up the taskforce to help this sector as it involved the livelihood of those in the industry.
He said the state views the socioeconomic impact of Covid-19 on the state seriously and will take early action to ensure the survival of Penangites.