Malaysian state Penang has set up the Tourism Penang Next Normal Task Force, primarily to collect the opinions of stakeholders in tourism to formulate strategies to ensure the viability of the sector, including medical tourism.
Kuala Lumpur and Penang have traditionally been the main destinations for healthcare travellers to Malaysia, primarily due to the ease of accessibility, with international airports in both cities.
The taskforce will formulate a strategy to revive the state’s tourism industry, after the movement control orders end.
Malaysia’s tourism sector is among the sectors worst hit by COVID-19.
Tourism and services account for 49% of Penang’s gross domestic product, which is more than manufacturing industry (46%).
The state’s tourism industry covers recreational events, arts and culture, medical tourism, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions and the hospitality industry such as hotels and homestays.
There are 300,000 people employed in the services sector in Penang, with approximately half in the tourism industry.
An analysis by the state’s think tank, Penang Institute, says that small medium enterprises (SMEs) make up 99% of the services sector in Penang.