PENANG is targeting a 6% increase in the total number of vessel calls at Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT) by end of this year.
State Tourism Development, Heritage, Culture and Arts Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said a total of 1,942 vessels had called at SPCT as of end of November this year.
“We expect the number to exceed 2,100 by end of this month (December), which would be a 6% increase from last year.
“The number of passengers received from January to October this year was 868,060 against 985,739 passengers of the same period last year.
“We are unable to ascertain the ‘500,000’ figure as reported in an English daily,” Yeoh told a press conference today.
He was commenting on an article published on Dec 1, with the headline ‘Pearl of the Orient loses shine as 866 cruises stop visits’.
“We are very unhappy as there are several misleading statements in the article.
“One of the paragraph which stated that ‘The sharp slump meant that Penang saw about 500,000 fewer cruise passengers than last year’s glowing record’, is misleading.
“The paragraph which stated that ‘Last year saw 1,985 cruise ships calls and this year, with only a month left, only 1,119 calls were recorded since the end of October’ is also misleading,” he claimed.
“There were 1,756 vessel calls at SPCT from January to end of October this year,” he added.
Yeoh said that Penang has always been the preferred cruise destination.
“The Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, one of the world’s leading cruise companies, had even signed a joint venture agreement with Penang Port to redevelop SPCT.
“A redeveloped SPCT will increase tourist arrivals and be a catalyst that creates jobs and spurs economic activity,” he said.
Penang Port Sdn Bhd chief executive officer V. Sasedharan said that Penang Port had been constantly delivering over a million passengers who transit through its cruise terminal.
“Next year is going to be better. We are working very closely with Penang Global Tourism (PGT),” he said.
Sasedharan also said that Penang Port had issued a letter to the English daily, demanding a retraction and apology.
Also present was PGT chief executive officer Ooi Chok Yan.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis