More cruises called in Penang last year than anywhere else in Malaysia – including the country’s former top cruise destination of Port Klang – bringing new business opportunities for the state’s tourism players.
Penang’s Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal received 270 cruise calls last year, a significant lead over Port Klang’s 166 calls. This represents a leap for Penang compared with 2016, during which Port Klang led with 142 cruise calls versus Penang’s 117.
The number of passengers from international cruise calls to Penang in 2017 also surged to 438,369 from 182,277 in 2016.
This year, Penang is looking at welcoming 1.8 million passenger arrivals through 350 cruise ship calls. With an average spend of US$50 per passenger, Penang can look forward to a revenue of US$90 million in retail spend from cruise passengers this year.
Welcoming the new opportunities Penang’s rising status as a cruise destination has brought to the tourism sector, Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman, director of communications, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa and Golden Sands Resort, commented: “It is good for business. Everybody benefits, from the trishaw riders, souvenir shops, cafes to restaurants and hotels. We work with cruise liners for day trips to Golden Sands Resort where cruisers have lunch or high-tea. They use our facilities such as the swimming pool and showers.”
Danny Tan, manager – Tourism Promotions at Penang Global Tourism, said: “Penang has been very aggressive in marketing and promoting the destination to cruise liners. Last year we produced a brochure on Penang with suggested places to visit and things to do within three to six hours. (These were) distributed to cruise liners and targeted cruise passengers who did not purchase a shore excursion package from the cruise operator.”
Cruises that call in Penang with a minimum of 1,500 passengers are entitled to a special welcome ceremony at the cruise terminal, another recent initiative of Penang Global Tourism. It includes local performances as well as a showcase of Penang’s local snacks and fruits, shared Tan.
Penang’s cruise terminal is located within the UNESCO Heritage Zone bustling George Town, the state capital of Penang. It is also walking distance to tourist areas such as Armenian Street, Beach Street, Little India and China Town.