Focus View
Aren’t tourists an important source of revenue?
FocusM team | 04 Aug 2017 00:30
We can’t understand the federal government’s reluctance to expand the Penang International Airport to cope with the increasing number of tourists.

It is a no-brainer that when an airport reaches its capacity, it needs to be expanded. An example is the former Low-Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang which was bursting at the seams and was replaced with klia2 two years ago.

In fact, the planning for Penang airport should have been done at least a year before it reached full capacity. Last year, the airport took 6.7 million passengers, exceeding its capacity of 6.5 million. From January to May, arrivals increased by 8.7% from the same period last year.

Unless there is a sudden outbreak of disease or war, the number of passengers will exceed seven million this year. How is Penang going to cope?

It is easy to suggest that planes arrive and depart during non-peak hours to avoid congestion. But why should tourists be made to arrive at some unearthly hour just because the airport can’t cope during peak hours?  

This is not the way to treat tourists.  The country needs all the tourist dollars it can get. With manufacturing and exports slowing down, the services sector can save the day. And that includes tourism. Over the years, the sector has become an important contributor to our economy.

The government must make every effort to ensure tourists have a memorable and pleasant stay. Don’t make them wait in a long queue to clear immigration or wade through flooded floors caused by leaking ceilings at Penang airport. 

The federal government says it is unable to extend Penang airport due to funding constraints. Its expansion was not listed in the 11th Malaysia Plan. But that shouldn’t be an excuse as an RM80 mil expansion of Sandakan Airport is being undertaken although it was not listed in the 11th Plan.
  
At the end of the day, it is about how the government prioritises its spending. If the benefits far outweigh the costs, just go ahead with it.