Penang tourism group says state ready for tourists, reiterates importance of ‘test then travel’

A woman is seen praying at the Snake Temple in Bayan Baru, Penang October 15, 2021. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
A woman is seen praying at the Snake Temple in Bayan Baru, Penang October 15, 2021. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Oct 15 — Penang is gearing up to receive interstate travellers this weekend with the advice that visitors abide by the “Test Then Travel” concept for the safety of everyone.

In dismissing various social media postings with “anti-tourism” sentiments to deter visitors from coming to Penang, the Association of Tourism Attractions Penang (ATAP) chairman Ch'ng Huck Theng said tourism attractions in Penang are promoting Responsible Tourism to protect its visitors and staffs.

“We are abiding to strict SOPs and taking one step ahead by encouraging 'Test Then Travel' as precautionary measures for everyone,” he said.

He advised those keen on travelling to be responsible to themselves and their family and to refrain from travelling if they are not feeling well.

“If you are planning a trip, test first before travelling,” he said.

He said the tourism industry can't continue to be on lockdown for the sake of the two per cent who are against the reopening of tourism while the other 98 per cent will suffer economically.

“The pandemic has seen many people losing their jobs and suffering income loss that has led to more hunger and financial hardship,” he pointed out.

He said if this lockdown was to drag on, it would lead to more serious mental and social problems such as suicides and robberies.

He reminded the public that Malaysia is expected to move from the pandemic into an endemic phase in two weeks' time so it is only right to move forward by adopting the post-Covid new normal.

“In short, Covid-19 is not going away in the near future but we still need to survive, so we need to be careful and we need to act responsibly moving forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, who visited the Penang Snake Temple earlier today, said the tourism sector was the worst hit during the pandemic.

“A lot of people lost their jobs, businesses closed down so it is a good sign that some are reopening now,” he said.

He said it is not fair for the tourism industry to remain closed when prior to this, a majority of the cases were reported at the workplace, in factories and construction sites.

“Even if we are to lock down for another six months, it will not guarantee that there will be zero cases but people will suffer economically,” he said.

Sim reiterated the “test then travel” advice to all visitors as a form of new tourism practices so that everyone's safety is protected.

“We have to change the way we are receiving visitors now, we have to be more welcoming and at the same time build confidence by implementing strict SOPs so that visitors feel safe about visiting our tourism places,” he said.

He said traveling during a pandemic can also be stressful so this reopening for domestic tourism is a good way to challenge the tourism industry in preparation for the future reopening of international tourism.

“We need to learn to live with Covid-19, change the way of doing things and be prepared for international tourism when international borders reopen in future,” he said.

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