On a mission to lure Indian tourists


THE Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) and the state Tourism office are stepping up efforts to draw more Indian tourists to Penang.

PCEB chief executive officer Ashwin Gunasekeran said there has been an 11% increase in Indian arrivals to Penang since they started penetrating the Indian market last year.

“The figures we have are direct arrivals from the airports, meaning that they are either from Singapore or from Thailand into Penang. And we do have the connectivity from seaports or cruise as well,” Ashwin told reporters after PCEB hosted a luncheon for the media as well as to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Also present were state Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin and Penang Global Tourism chief executive officer Ooi Chok Yan.

Ashwin said Indian tourists’ key destinations in Malaysia are Kuala Lumpur because of the Petronas Twin Towers, Genting Highlands and Langkawi.

“We’ve met up with over 1,000 agents in India and they have given their commitment to further boost Penang as their next destination. We would host the Indian media and agents this year.

“We’re also having discussions with one of India’s production houses. Through the film industry, we hope to raise awareness and further grow Penang tourism. For the filming, it should take place sometime in August. This is an additional initiative.

“The Indian tourist arrivals to Penang are in the top 10. I can safely say that for 2019 to mid next year, there can be a 30% increase in arrivals.”

Yeoh (fifth from the left), flanked by Ashwin and Ooi, joining PCEB staff members in tossing the ‘yee sang’ at a restaurant in Bishop Street.

Ashwin said the Indians were quite surprised that there is a Little India in Penang and the availability of Indian food which are the key selling points.

He said Penang would also be a good place for honeymooners and family with children.

Last year, PCEB went on a roadshow to promote Penang in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Calcutta while this year, the team went to New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad.

Among the interesting sites highlighted by Ashwin and his team were the Penang Hill Habitat, George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site and the state’s famous food.

PCEB is also planning to hold major conferences in 2020 and 2021, as Ashwin said business travellers bring in three times more revenue compared to leisure travellers.

Yeoh said the state would tap into the Indian market because of its huge potential.

“India will be one of our main targets in the coming years. Our traditional markets are China and South East Asia but we know India’s potential due to its high population and the historical background between India and Penang.

“When I went to Europe, I saw a lot of Indian tourists. This shows they have spending power. I believe we have many things to offer them. We will come up with more strategies to promote Penang,” Yeoh said.

Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi