The ringgit’s slide may have discouraged overseas travel, but new tourist attractions on the island may also explain the increase in the number of domestic tourists.
GEORGE TOWN: More Malaysians appear to be holidaying locally now that the ringgit’s fall in value has made it expensive to go abroad.
Khoo Boo Lim, the chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels’ Penang Chapter, said the current holiday season had seen an increase in the number of Malaysians taking up rooms in Penang hotels.
Speaking to FMT, he said some resorts along the tourism belt of Batu Ferringhi, which is famous for its beaches, were almost fully booked and they were seeing more locals staying with them.
“I can see more locals in the crowd,” he said. “It is possible more are spending their holidays within Malaysia because the ringgit’s value is down. In fact, some guests have said so.”
The ringgit has been sliding since 2014 following the drop in oil prices, the strengthening of the US dollar, the uncertainty in palm oil prices and a decline in exports. Internal developments like criticisms against 1Malaysia Development Berhad have also been blamed.
With schools shut for the year-end vacation and Malaysians enjoying public holidays and long weekends, many hotels in Batu Ferringhi are busy this time of the year. Popular hotels in the area are seeing occupancy at almost 100%, Khoo said.
City hotels in George Town and those along Gurney Drive were also doing good business, he added.
The introduction of new tourism products, namely The Top at Komtar, The Habitat eco-tourism attraction on Penang Hill and Entopia (formerly known as Penang Butterfly Farm), has also helped Penang attract visitors, including domestic tourists, according to Khoo.
The Top, which opened this month, is Penang’s first and biggest indoor theme attraction. It has Southeast Asia’s highest skywalk, which gives a 360 degree view of George Town and parts of the mainland. It also has the Jurassic Research Centre, Tech Dome Penang and Asia’s first 7D Discovery Motion Theatre.
Penang Global Tourism assistant manager Jason Sim said the past year had seen Penang receiving more domestic tourists than foreign tourists.
“It used to be 50-50, but since 2015, the ratio has changed to 60-40, with Penang getting more domestic tourists,” he said.
“From January to March 2015, the number of domestic tourists was 726,000. Over the same period this year, the number has increased by about 20,000. But for foreign tourists, the number went down from 700,000 to 690,000 during the same period.”
Source : Free Malaysia Today