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Thursday, 10 August 2017

(The Star) Tapping the growing market for cruise tourism

Can Penang’s cruise ship travellers — who need not spend the night here — benefit beach resorts? Why not?

A beach resort in Batu Ferringhi has struck a deal with major cruise ships that call on Swettenham Pier to become a ‘beach hub’ for their passengers.

They can explore the seaside tourist belt while having at their disposal all the facilities of Shangri-La’s Golden Sands Resort.

“They can use our pool, shower rooms, restaurants and all other facilities. No need for them to get a room,” said resort communication director Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Suleiman said he had chatted with many cruise ship passengers to understand their needs.

“After being at sea for weeks, they want to get rid of their sea legs and feel sand or grass between their toes.

“They don’t need hotel rooms but enjoy the comfort of a resort while roaming in Batu Ferringhi,” he said, adding that the resort was the only beach hub at present for cruise ship travellers.

Commenting on the rapid growth of cruise tourism in Penang, Suleiman agreed that it was changing the tourism scene.

“Tourism can sometimes be a feast or famine sector. A resort could either be fully packed or totally empty.

“We once had what we called the Arab season in July, August and September, when temperatures are over 40 degrees Celsius in the Middle East.

“We also used to rely on China’s Golden Week, the country’s week-long National Day holidays, and the winter months of Europe.

“Cruise ship arrival rates are reshaping our tourism economic pie.

“And even though we are a beach resort, a little imagination will still lead us to benefit from the change,” he added.