Covid-19 Crisis Assessments

Transforming Tourism in Penang: Suggestions for the Short and the Long Term

By Lim Sok Swan (Special Projects Officer), Yap Jo-Yee (Analyst, Socioeconomics & Statistics Programme), & Pan Yi Chieh (Analyst, Heritage & Urban Studies Programme)   |   Posted on


  • The tourism sector is currently experiencing extreme declines in revenue. Near-zero and zero revenues are the norm. Mass layoffs are imminent should this situation persist.
  • Some forms of safety net exist for full-time workers (voluntary pay cuts and unpaid/ half-paid leave arrangements) in the industry, but casual and part-time workers are left unprotected.
  • It is important to recognise that whatever measures are taken to protect the tourism sector, if social distancing persists and recurs, sector-wide revenue decline will continue. Hence, the key question to ask is, what will long-term solutions be for the tourism sector?
  • Our key recommendations address pressing needs for the short term, but focus on the long term:
    • Provide financial aid targeting SMEs
    • Have frequent communication and clear information
    • Assist businesses by supporting their own individually considered measures.
    • Raise hygiene standards and inform travelers when Penang is safe to visit
    • Identify and engage all stakeholders
    • Strike a balance between economic concerns and liveability
    • Increase resilience through a localisation of the sector