GEORGE TOWN, Nov 18 — The Penang government was willing to collaborate with other northern states, including Kedah, to create a Northern Peninsular Malaysia Travel Corridor, said a state official.

Tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said the idea of creating the corridor was mooted in a seminar and workshop organised by Tourism Malaysia two days ago, which was attended by industry players and tourism state excos from Perlis and Perak.

“Travel agents and tourism industry players are willing to work together to create tour packages encompassing all four states, Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Perak, to bring more visitors to the northern region,” he said.

He said the travel corridor would also be beneficial to Malaysia as a whole as it could attract international tourists to stay longer in Malaysia when the international borders reopen.

“We want to complement each other instead of competing against each other because our real competitors are other countries like Thailand and Indonesia,” he told reporters after attending a press conference on Penang signature gold and jewellery fair.

He said Penang has many tourism products that it could promote and package as a travel experience for visitors to enjoy Penang along with the three other northern states as a whole.

“Our vision is to make Penang as a destination in the region and we want people to stay longer in Malaysia so we need to work with other states to make this happen,” he said.

When asked if Penang would work with the Kedah government especially with the repeated controversy between both states, Yeoh said Penang is open to work with Kedah if they are willing.

“We are open to work with anyone, including Kedah, as long as we can push the tourism industry forward, it is for the people’s sake, that is more important than any political differences,” he said.

He said politics should be set aside to spur the growth of the state and country’s economy which will benefit the people.

In a statement issued earlier today on this same issue, Yeoh had said that tourism operators can repackage existing tourism packages by combining the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve (Penang), Kilim Geoforest Park (Kedah), Gua Kelam Recreational Park (Perlis) and Lenggong Geopark (Perak) under one ecotourism route.

He said Malaysia should learn from other countries like China and Europe that have launched travel corridors to encourage visitors to visit different cities in the same country under the same travel package.

He then called on the government to expand the Vaccinated Travel Lane nationwide so that it can benefit the tourism industry.

Meanwhile, when asked about the shortage of workers in the tourism and service industry, especially hotels, to meet the sudden influx of visitors, Yeoh said the employers will need to offer better perks and salaries.

“The service industry is not the only one to face shortage in workers, even the manufacturing industry is facing a shortage so they will need to meet market forces by offering better perks,” he said.

He added that the lockdowns and its impact on the tourism industry over the past two years may have also contributed to a reluctance among workers to go back to working in the industry.

“This is a very real problem faced by many hotels and I understand that many hotels have only opened between 50 and 70 per cent of their rooms and not 100 per cent due to the shortage of workers,” he said.