Malaysia looks to Emirates’ new Penang service to boost footfall

Malaysia’s travel trade is banking on Emirates’ upcoming service from Dubai to Penang, via Singapore, from May 1 to raise the profile of the destination among European travellers, especially as the new route coincides with the European Summer holidays.

The new service was originally scheduled for April 9.

Emirates’ new Dubai-Penang service poised to take off from May 1

Gotz Travel & Tours managing director, Sheikh Awadh Sheikh Abdullah, said the Singapore-Penang combo will make it easier to market to Europeans since it offers travellers the chance to see two destinations in one holiday trip.

“Singapore offers a city experience, while Penang offers an island experience, food, culture and the (experience of visiting the) UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town,” he added.

Arokia Das, director, WL Leisure, shared: “It is good timing as May is the start of the European Summer. We are looking at 10-day programmes – seven days in Malaysia and three days in Singapore. We will take advantage of the connectivity to contact our existing agent partners and cultivate new agent contacts throughout Europe.”

However, he warned that the Covid-19 outbreak could be a dampener. “Usually for future bookings, 80 to 90 per cent of the bookings are considered guaranteed. With the outbreak, only about 20 per cent of future bookings are guaranteed. It now all depends on how quickly the outbreak in Europe and Asia can be contained,” he said.

Agreeing, Kingston Khoo, director of sales and marketing at Mutiara Taman Negara Resort, said: “We had 40 to 50 per cent cancellations from March to May – and these were mainly from Italy, Central Europe and regional markets. We hope these new flights will attract more Eastern Europeans.

“We hope to see a spillover of business from the new flights, especially for European tourists who do overland trips from the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia to the southern region – from Penang to Cameron Highlands and then, Taman Negara; before moving on to Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and exiting through Singapore.”

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