[Full power in the Year of the Dragon]Huang Hanwei hopes to increase direct flights to the home port of cruise ships, convention and exhibition tourism, Penang tourism will develop on three fronts

[Full power in the Year of the Dragon]Huang Hanwei hopes to increase direct flights to the home port of cruise ships, convention and exhibition tourism, Penang tourism will develop on three fronts


Report: Huang Fangji Photography: Zhang Linlin

(Penang News on the 13th) Penang Tourism and Creative Economy Affairs Committee Chairman Huang Hanwei said that Penang’s tourism industry has recovered significantly and entered the Year of the Dragon in 2024. Looking at Penang’s tourism industry, it will usher in an even brighter performance. Three fronts including striving for the opening of More international direct flights, turning Penang into a cruise home port and striving to promote convention and exhibition tourism.

In an exclusive interview with a reporter from Guangming Daily, he said that according to data, the flow of passengers on domestic and international flights in Penang has increased significantly, whether departing or entering the country. The total number of passengers at Penang International Airport will increase from 4,242,997 in 2022 to 6,979,748 in 2023, an increase of 64.50%.

Build an aviation hub in Northern Malaysia

“I am working hard to establish more direct flights between countries and cities and Penang, with a view to turning Penang into an aviation hub in the Northern Malaysia region.

He said that judging from the flow of domestic and foreign passengers departing or entering the Penang International Airport over the years, it is not difficult to find that it has the conditions to become an aviation hub in the Northern Malaysia region.

“Passengers flying at Penang International Airport are not only Penangites, but also people from Perlis and Kedah. There are also many Thais from southern Thailand who use Penang International Airport to depart or enter the country.”

He added that Thais from southern Thailand choose to use Penang International Airport mainly because Penang International Airport is closer than Bangkok International Airport.

He pointed out that last year, Penang resumed its cooperation with Guangzhou (China Southern Airlines), Xiamen (Xiamen Airways), Doha (Qatar Airways), Bangkok and Phuket (Fireflight Airways), Banda Aceh (Fireflight Airways and Batik Airways). Airlines) and Hong Kong (AirAsia) and other destinations.

“Looking at 2024, the new international routes that will be added are India, Shanghai and Dubai.”

Currently, 13 cities have direct flights to Penang

He believes that this expansion measure will not only bring benefits to Penang’s tourism and business, but also highlight Penang’s strategic position in the international route network.

“As of now, there are 13 international cities with direct flights to Penang, namely Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Hong Kong, Medan, Jakarta, Surabaya, Banda Aceh, Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City and Doha.”

Penang’s 51 business events last year, MICE tourism is the new blue ocean

Tourism can be said to be one of the two pillars of Penang’s economy. Last year, the Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau secured 51 domestic and foreign exhibitions and business conferences to be held in Penang, including many large-scale business events involving tens of thousands of people. Huang Hanwei is also a member of the Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau. Chairman of the State Convention and Exhibition Bureau (PCEB), he believes that convention and exhibition tourism will be a new blue ocean in Penang’s tourism sector.

“Many people limit Penang’s tourism products to food and intangible cultural heritage. However, in recent years, the state government has promoted many new tourism products abroad, such as medical tourism and exhibition tourism.”

“Many people may not have much idea about exhibition tourism. This project is a form of business tourism that relies on holding conferences, seminars, forums, corporate incentive travel and various exhibitions.”

He disclosed that due to the high standards of the exhibition, the participants are all business guests with strong spending power, and because of this, their consumption level and scale are much higher than those of ordinary tourists.

“An exhibition can attract as few as a hundred people or as many as tens of thousands, so it will bring great economic benefits to the state’s tourism industry chain, including hotel accommodation, catering, transportation and shopping.”

Welcome to Binhai Convention and Exhibition Center next year

The large-scale convention and exhibition centers currently owned by Penang are the Penang International Convention and Exhibition Center (sPICE Arena) and the Penang International Convention and Exhibition Culture and Arts Center (PiCCA, also known as Butterworth Convention and Exhibition Center) in Seberang Perai. Next year, another large-scale private exhibition center will be ushered in. Convention and Exhibition Center, namely Penang Waterfront Convention Center.

Penang to build cruise homeport

Infrastructure space needs to be improved

In terms of cruise tourism, Wong Han Wai said that the number of international tourists arriving in Penang by cruise ship has been on the rise in recent years. Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook also mentioned earlier that he intends to build Penang’s Sweden Ham Pier into a cruise home port.

“Penang has a strategic geographical location in the sea, land and air transportation system, and it does have the conditions to become a cruise home port, but there are two challenges that must be overcome first. 1. Upgrading the existing terminal infrastructure, space and hardware equipment is one of the challenges; 2. Connect with airlines from more countries and cities and strive for more direct routes to Penang.”

When Huang Hanwei participated in the Singapore ITB Travel Exhibition in October last year, he visited the Marina Bay Cruise Center in Singapore and learned about the operations of the cruise home port under the guidance of the cruise center manager.

He learned that the cruise home port function is not only the departure port for cruise ships and for international cruise ships to dock, but also the cruise company’s operating base, and it needs to have functions such as cruise maintenance and cruise company operation management.

“As a cruise home port, in addition to the above functions, it also needs to have services such as entry and exit management, luggage check-in chain, and tourist check-in. Therefore, a cruise home port with complete infrastructure is comparable to an international airport.”

He pointed out that the current infrastructure equipment and space of Penang’s Swedeen Terminal cannot accommodate the tourist throughput after it is upgraded to a cruise home port.

More than 570,000 cruise passengers last year

“Another challenge is that we need to open direct flights with more countries and cities, so that tourists can fly directly to the cruise home port to board the ship without having to change flights.”

The main base of international cruise home ports in Southeast Asia is Singapore, but Penang’s Swedeen Pier is also a docking base for international cruise ships. The number of foreign tourists disembarking from this terminal has increased repeatedly in recent years, bringing business opportunities to the surrounding tourism industry.

“The number of cruise tourists arriving in Penang in 2019 was 409,943, and in 2022 it will be 439,012. The number of international tourists last year was 573,178.”

He pointed out that the Strait of Malacca is in the equatorial windless zone, with many calm days throughout the year, and there are ports along the way that can dock. Therefore, many cruise companies have launched “Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand cruise packages”.

He said that this cruise line departs from the Marina Bay Cruise Center in Singapore as its home port, passes through the Strait of Malacca to Phuket, Thailand, and docks at Port Klang and Penang’s Sweden Marina along the way. After arriving at the destination, it sails back and has gained popularity in India, Favored by Chinese, European and American tourists.

“The reason why Penang’s Swedesham Pier was chosen as one of the ports of call for international cruise ships is that Penang has the absolute charm of a port city.”

Reserve family exercise time

Cherish our time with my wife

Huang Hanwei reserves a small amount of time every week for family and sports. Even if it is eating Hong Kong-style snacks with his wife or practicing running in the park, he cherishes this small blessing of “we time”.

Entering the Year of the Dragon, the family’s youngest son is about to finish high school. Huang Hanwei and his wife Lin Suping plan to use this year to provide guidance for their younger son’s study plan.

“My wife and I have three children, two of whom have already studied in foreign universities and have established tracks. Although we will provide guidance for our children’s study plans, we never interfere with which country or university they want to study in. Even if it is our younger son who will finish middle school, we will respect his choice.”

The Jiachen New Year of the Lunar Calendar is a very happy event for Huang Hanwei. In addition to his younger son entering another milestone in his life, his two children who are studying abroad have come back to celebrate the New Year. He smiled happily when talking about this in the interview I couldn’t smile from ear to ear.

“When they were abroad, I missed them, so I would chat with them through video communication. Now that they are back for the New Year, of course I am happy. There are people to run and eat with me. With more people, my home will naturally become lively. “

Running spirit to perform official duties

Haste outstrips haste, but diligence is the fastest

From running in the park to completing the 42-kilometer marathon, Huang Hanwei’s three-year running process relied not only on perseverance, but also on step-by-step practice, which also allowed him to use his running experience to manage Penang’s tourism and creativity on economic matters.

He admitted that the running process over the years not only accumulated sweat and improved physical fitness, but also stimulated his experience and views on things. Among them, he was deeply touched by the realization that everything needs to be done step by step. After all, “the desire for speed” If you don’t succeed, diligence is the fastest.”

“For example, last year our country announced a 30-day visa-free entry measure for Chinese tourists. We had already formulated a plan to connect with Chinese airlines. So after our country announced relevant measures, we took advantage of the situation to make plans to travel to several cities in China to communicate with local airlines to strive for direct flights.”

He admitted frankly that if no step-by-step preparations were made in advance and the above-mentioned measures were implemented hastily when they were announced, they might not be very effective.

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This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.

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