Penang Attractions Ready for Visitors as Interstate Travel Under Strict Covid-19 SOPs Allowed from Today

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 11 — After being closed for almost half a year, tourist attractions here are all set to receive visitors.

About 14 tourism attractions in Penang reopened this month with another two more set to open over the next few weeks but business has remained slow.

According to Association of Tourist Attractions Penang (ATAP) chairman Ch’ng Huck Theng, most of the outdoor attractions opened on October 1.

“Tropical Spice Garden, Tropical Fruit Farm, Penang Bird Park and Habitat have reopened and a few others will follow between mid to end of this month,” he said.

Out of the total 51 members under ATAP, Ch’ng said 16 have remained closed while the remaining 65 per cent have reopened.

“Most of the museums are not open yet but places like Audi Dream Farm and Cheah Kongsi have reopened,” he said.

He added that all attractions will continue to follow strict SOPs to prioritise the safety of all visitors and staff.

He said despite reopening to local visitors, the number of visitors to these places is still very low.

All of them are hopeful for an increase in visitors now that interstate travel is allowed.

Meanwhile, The Habitat managing director Allen Tan said they only see visitors coming on weekends and very few visitors during the week.

“This is to be expected since we are relying mainly on the Penang market at the moment,” he said.

However, Tan said they took this slow restart as an opportunity to prepare for the expected bounce back in domestic tourism once interstate travel is allowed.

“It will provide a very much-needed boost,” he said.

He said they will still continue to be cautious and practice strict SOPs to ensure the safety and health of all visitors and their team.

“We are only open to fully vaccinated visitors for the time being in line with prevailing SOPs for outdoor and eco-attractions like ourselves,” he said.

A general view of the Tropical Spice Garden. — Picture by Steven Ooi KE
A general view of the Tropical Spice Garden. — Picture by Steven Ooi KE

Meanwhile, on whether the state is prepared to accept an influx of out-of-state visitors when interstate travel is allowed, Penang Putrajaya Covid-19 coordinator Steven Sim said now is the time for the state to shift its strategy from controlling the number of cases to dealing with those who are sick.

He said what is important now is to treat it as endemic and this is to reduce the number of deaths and ensure that the healthcare system is able to treat those who are infected.

“We cannot avoid reopening the borders so we have to strengthen our healthcare system to be prepared to implement the 3Ts, test, trace and treat, and isolate them,” he said.

He said the main problem in handling the pandemic prior to this was that the system was not fast enough to implement the 3Ts; even now, the tracing part is still a problem.

“Once we are fully prepared, with fully equipped medical facilities for the sick, there won’t be a panic if there is an increase in cases,” he said.

He said no one will know the effects of allowing interstate travel but pointed out that even without it, cases have spiked in Sarawak and recently, even with Singapore’s tight controls, they have seen a spike in cases.

“We cannot always be in lockdown mode, now is the time to make sure we are prepared to face it and if our healthcare system is fully prepared, we will be able to handle it well,” he said.


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