BEACH hotels in Penang are experiencing an unprecedented decline in the number of tourist arrivals from the Middle East this season.
The decline is due to a lack of exciting shopping activities as most Arab tourists fancy designer goods which are hardly available in Penang.
Poor taxi services and the lack of pristine beaches are also reasons why the tourists have stayed away.
An industry player said shopping for branded items was top on the list of tourists from the Middle East.
“Apart from the Klang Valley, we do not have impressive outlets selling branded goods and these tourists are looking for the latest designs, not discounted items,” he added.
A hotel spokesman said the hotels already had an indication that the number of Middle East tourists would drop this year when they recorded fewer bookings compared with last year.
“Our counterparts in the Klang Valley are getting increased number of bookings, while the situation here is not encouraging,” she said.
She said the hotel resorted to offering discounts on room rates to pull in tourists.
“We still have a lot of rooms available for walk-in guests. Even during the school holidays next week, we still have rooms available,” she said, refusing to disclose the percentage of discounts offered.
It has been reported several years ago that Penang received about 8,000 Arab tourists every season, generating about RM80mil in downstream revenue.
The Arabs, who come between June and September, usually spend about two weeks in one destination.
Another industry player said Arabs had also complained about the unsightly beaches.
“They also complained that the taxis are too small and some are too old.
“Some of them were uncomfortable being chauffer-driven in small cars. They prefer MPVs and bigger cars,” he said.
Association of Tourism Attractions Penang (ATAP) chairman Eddy Low said most Arab tourists were not keen on group tours.
“Most Arab tourists are not keen on group tour packages. They prefer to make their own flight and travel arrangements as well as choose the hotels which they want to stay in,” he said.He said tourist arrivals from the Middle East should increase if there were more direct flights.
“Most of the Arab tourists come to Penang via KLIA,” he added.
Source : STAR
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