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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Penang Hill has not hit capacity crowd of 4,800 yet, assembly told

A cable car project to the top of the 833m-high Penang Hill has been announced in the 2020 federal budget. (Bernama pic)
GEORGE TOWN: The state assembly today heard that Penang Hill’s maximum capacity of 4,800 people at any one time has yet to be reached as the current number of visitors is barely half that.
State executive councillor Yeoh Soon Hin (PH-Paya Terubong) said during the peak hours, there only an average of 1,500 people were on the hill.
He was seeking to allay concerns over a cable car project to the top of the 833m-high hill, as announced in the 2020 federal budget.
Currently, the funicular railway running to the summit often malfunctions. Hence, the federal government’s plan to introduce the cable car connecting the Botanic Gardens at the base to the hilltop.
Giving his winding-up speech, Yeoh said a pre-feasibility study on the cable car was being carried out by the Penang government and would take six months to complete.
He said an open tender for this pre-feasibility study was called in June and negotiations for shortlisted bidders were held in October. The winner of the bid will be announced soon.
He said at present, work was under way to control peak hour human traffic and install an electronic system to display wait times for the funicular railway.
Yesterday, Yeoh announced that some 200 to 300 hotel rooms will be created on Penang Hill, by repurposing four colonial-era bungalows existing there.
Friends of Penang Hill, an informal group of activists had fought against the cable car idea in the late 1980s. The group’s protests were said to have cost former chief minister Lim Chong Eu his state seat in the 1990s. The project was then scrapped when his successor, Koh Tsu Koon, took over.
The group had argued that the hilltop does not have the carrying capacity to hold so many people once the cable car starts.
Penang in first place for medical tourism
Separately, Yeoh said Penang continues to be the medical tourism destination of choice, with a 61% share of the market in Malaysia, netting RM567.2 million last year, based on Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council data.
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor are in second and third place, he said. He said from January to June this year, the number of foreign patients had increased by 12.5% and income has increased by 15.5%.
“We are now getting patients from Chinese second and third-tier cities, and Middle Eastern countries, due to direct flights to Penang,” he said. - FMT

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