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Cruise ship arrival to boost island tourism and economy

Publish date: Fri, 01 Jul 2022, 09:59 AM

GEORGE TOWN: After two years of Covid-19 restrictions, tourism players are looking forward to the arrival of international cruise ship Spectrum of the Seas, which will calling at the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) at 8am tomorrow.

The arrival and disembarkation of 3,239 passengers and 1,577 crew members will be “sweet news” for stakeholders and tourism industry players who are looking forward to receiving them after the long hiatus.

Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm sales and marketing consultant May Ang said cruise passengers comprise a bulk of its international tourists, adding that it was a real loss when Malaysia issued a blanket ban on cruise ships in March 2020 when the pandemic hit.

“We have been told to be on standby by agents as we expect a group of them to visit Entopia.

“We expect more of them to visit us on return trips over the next few months,” she added.

Association of Tour-ism Attractions Penang chairman Ch’ng Huck Theng said its members are ready to welcome the passengers.

“The arrival could pave the way for more international tourists to visit places of attraction in Penang.

“Word-of-mouth by the passengers when they return home will be a catalyst to brand Penang as a ‘must-visit’ destination for others, and we hope this will give a much-needed boost to operators who were badly affected during the pandemic,” said Ch’ng.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry Penang director Jonathan Freddy Bagang said it is the best news for the tourism industry as cruise tourism brings in the bulk of international tourists to Penang.

“We haven’t really seen the return of international tourists yet, due to the lingering fear and also connectivity, due to fewer direct flights.

“As such, cruise passengers coming onto the island is a boon to all retailers and also trishawmen, who are expected to benefit tremendously from the arrival of the passengers,” he said.

Penang Port Commission chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng (pic) said the visit by Spectrum of the Seas, which is owned by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd, is significant as it would “open the gates” for more cruise ships to call on SPCT.

“This arrival is definitely a boost for Penang’s tourism and economy, and we have quite a number of inquiries from other cruise liners that are planning to call on us in 2023,” he said.

He said the biweekly call of the ship is the beginning of cruise activities in Penang, which will give a push to all industries associated with cruise tourism.

“This will be the first liner to berth at SPCT after the expansion, which will allow Penang Port to provide better service to cruise passengers and the crew.

“We are looking forward to welcoming them to the heritage state,” added Tan.

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