Winter blues for beach hotels

ANY hope of attracting tourists from overseas to come to Penang for their winter holidays has gone up in smoke.

With the country going through a new Covid-19 pandemic wave, all tourism players can hope for now is that local visitors can light up the Christmas scene at the beach hotels.

Malaysian Association of Hotels Penang past chairman Khoo Boo Lim said that previously, most beach hotels would enjoy a 70% occupancy rate from November to December which is the festive season.

“However this year, I’m doubtful the beach hotels will get the same response.

“The spending power of the locals is much less than that of the foreign tourists.

“The hotels here are definitely going to take a hit for the Christmas season this year.”

Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa communication director Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman said that in the previous years, the hotel would get guests from Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Australia at the end of the year.

“It has been the hotel’s tradition since we opened 47 years ago in 1973 to greet our foreign guests during the Christmas and New Year period. Many come here to escape the cold winter back home.

“Many foreign tourists will gather at beach hotels here for their year-end ‘reunion’.

“As one of the oldest hotels around, we always get a sizable number of regular faces from overseas.

“Even when some of them passed away over the years, their children and grandchildren would make the trip to our hotel for their holidays, ” he said.

Meanwhile, Rasa Sayang’s sister hotel Golden Sands Resort has come up with a promotion called ‘You Stay We Pay’ to entice locals.

The resort will top up and give guests RM300 nett daily resort credit valid for use at its food and beverage outlets.

Hard Rock Hotel marketing and communication manager Linda Goh said this would be the first Christmas and New Year Eve period with no foreign tourist crowds.

“We can’t exactly say if the number of local tourists will be able to give that same impact but we are pushing for a bigger slice of the market, although these are difficult times.

“We hope the situation will improve over time. It is hard to say when things will be back to normal, ” she said.

Bayview Beach Hotel general manager Lawrence Perera said he was hoping to have an occupancy rate of more than 60% in December and January.

“Foreign tourists play a big part in our business at the end of the year.

“The winter season used to be a boon for beach hotels here.

“They would book their stay way in advance but this is not happening this year due to the foreign travel ban.”

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