Businesses on Melaka’s Jonker Street sceptical about green zone travel

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MELAKA: Businesses along Melaka’s famous Jonker Street doubt that the introduction of domestic travel between green zones will make a big difference and expect the hard times to continue.

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To revitalise the struggling tourism sector, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri recently announced the domestic travel bubble which allows travellers to move between green zones.

Although there have been relatively few cases in the Melaka Tengah district that Jonker Street is located in, the manager of the River View Guest House, Theva Karan, does not expect a sudden influx of visitors if they are able to move from a yellow zone to green.

“We don’t expect it to improve or return to normal. Maybe we can fill 40% to 50% of the rooms, but I really don’t know if even that will happen.”

He said that before the pandemic, the hotel was routinely at 70% occupancy on weekends, but it now had to resort to offering rooms at a loss “for the cash flow, because it’s better than nothing”.

Theva also questioned whether people would have the money to travel even if they were allowed to.

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Jay Wong, who manages The Stolen Cup cafe, was also doubtful, and said that things would not be the same again until people from Selangor and Kuala Lumpur get the green light to travel.

“I’d say they made up at least 70% of our customers and with Selangor under CMCO, a lot of people from further north will find it difficult to come because of the hassle of roadblocks,” he said.

Wong said a few customers had come from Johor but that it was difficult to rely on local visitors alone.

Stephanie Tang, assistant manager of Calanthe Art Cafe, said that in an attempt to recover from the 70% drop in revenue, it had to adapt its menu and prices to attract Melaka residents.

“We can only target our local people, but a lot of Melakans don’t like this area because they see it as very touristy, they always think it’s only tourist food at tourist prices.”

She expects any improvement in business to be slow, as the busiest period for domestic tourism from her experience is already coming to a close, with January and February usually bringing overseas visitors from places like Japan and South Korea. – FMT

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