Speedy Growth for Cruise Tourism

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More cruise ships now dock at Swettenham Pier than anywhere else in Malaysia. This offers good opportunities for Penang – but also brings some tough challenges.

The weak ringgit, attractively priced hotels and George Town’s inscription as a Unesco World Heritage Site have kept Penang’s tourism industry buoyed despite the country’s economic woes.

Malaysian Airports Berhad reported 997,627 international arrivals to Penang between January and August 2017 – an 8% rise against 2016’s figure of 919,506.1 Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal experienced a similar surge, receiving 1.35 million passengers from 270 international cruise ships in 2017, says Penang Port Commission (PPC) Chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng.2

Swettenham Pier edged out main competitor Port Klang to receive a total of 125 port calls from international cruise ships in the first six months of 2017, making it Malaysia’s major cruise tourism hub. (In contrast, Port Klang received only 78 port calls during that period.)


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