Penang gains international clout as Qatar adds direct route

A Chinese temple in the heritage state of Penang. Source: Ruslan Zh/Unsplash

KUALA LUMPUR may be Malaysia’s most-visited city, but the northern state of Penang shouldn’t be overlooked in the tourist radar.

The impossibly charming capital of George Town – also recognized by the Unesco World Heritage – is gaining grounds among overseas travelers as the state government ups efforts to put the city on the map.

Recently, the announcement of direct flights between Doha and Penang serviced by Qatar Airways proved that the Malaysian state is on its way to becoming an international tourist destination. The long-haul route will commence on Feb 8, 2018, and will operate thrice weekly.

Diethelm Travel Malaysia managing director Manfred Kurz told TTG Asia that the new flights are “perfect” for promoting the northern region of Malaysia to Europeans.

“I foresee the UK senior market will be interested in these flights due to the country’s historical links with Penang,” he said.

George Town is known for its nostalgia-inducing street art. Source: Joey Santini/Shutterstock

The state is known as the food capital of Malaysia and increasingly, it’s also elevated its status as a street art haven. In April, the state was handpicked by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s best cities for street art.

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On top of that, Penang has also hosted several major trade shows and attended by buyers from all over the world, with many more in the pipeline this year.

Joe Calstas, director-general, board member at the Institute of Journalism and Communication based in Geneva, told TTG Asia that he is more likely to send delegates to Penang with the new route.

“We are considering holding seminars related to journalism in Penang, and improved long-haul connectivity will certainly help. We will be meeting with the Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau to know more about the offerings in the state,” he said.