Speech by Chief Minister of Penang
At Joint Venture Signing Ceremony between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Penang Port Sdn Bhd
6 September 2018
E&O Hotel, Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, Penang
Yang Berhormat Tuan Loke Siew Fook - Minister of Transport, Malaysia
Penang State Exco Members
Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Seri Hj. Saripuddin bin Hj. Kasim - Secretary General of Ministry of Transport
Dato` Hj. Baharin bin Dato Abdul Hamid - Director General of Marine Department Malaysia
Encik Mohamad Puzi bin Mohamad Nazir - General Manager of Penang Port Commission
Dato’ Syed Mohamad bin Syed Murtaza - Chairman of Penang Port Sdn Bhd
Dato' Sri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh - MMC Corporate Berhad Group Managing Director
Gavin Smith - Senior Vice President International, Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd
Members of Media
Ladies and gentlemen
First of all, thank you for inviting me to be part of this JV Agreement Signing Ceremony between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Penang Port Sdn Bhd. I wish to extend a special welcome to the Minister of Transport, YB Loke Siew Fook for gracing this event.
It is a great pleasure to witness this signing ceremony between RCCL and PPSB. I congratulate both parties for putting pen to paper to what I believe will be a fruitful relationship. It is a landmark agreement that turns a new chapter in the story of Penang and its continuing role in the formation of a new Malaysia.
Tourism has become one of the major drivers of international commerce, and represents one of the main income sources for many nations. Travel and tourism play an extensive role in stimulating economic sectors such as transport, food, accommodation, entertainment, handicrafts, shopping, spa, wellness, healthcare and education.
The State of Penang has always envisioned the state economy to be diverse and robust, with a strong focus on Tourism. CNN named Penang one of its 17 must-visit destinations in 2017. With the UNESCO World Heritage Site in George Town, Penang has become a major regional tourist destination receiving 7.2 million visitors in 2017 and 4.4 million for the first 7 months of this year. This is a destination that has much to offer, with global recognition.
Ladies and gentlemen,
If you sail the waters off George Town, you cannot miss Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal. It is an inseparable feature of the city and a hallmark of our maritime heritage. Today, SPCT is a leading cruise destination in Asia and plays a vital role in our tourism. Last year, it received over 1.2 million cruise visitors via Swettenham Pier.
More than a century ago, the site of Swettenham Pier was a bustling port and trading hub called Weld Quay. As the decades passed by Weld Quay became more and more of a passenger port, and people would also come to witness the grand spectacle of Muslim pilgrims leaving for Mecca on their Haj.
Now the maritime spirit of Penang carried by Weld Quay continues with Swettenham Pier, and we witness spectacles of another kind. Every year we are blessed to receive massive cruise ships at the pier, some as large as a building more than 300 metres long and 14 stories high, carrying thousands of visitors with every call.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I understand that the new expansion undertaken by this new JV will enable the largest cruise ships in the world to call. Each of those cruise ships carries more than 6,000 passengers and 2,200 crew. The maiden call of such a ship will be such a proud moment in our history. We understand the terminal will need support in terms of logistics and transport staging and Majlis Bandaraya Pulau Pinang is already assisting by managing the logistics around the terminal better. We will support the JV’s efforts as necessary and, in line with the redevelopment of the terminal, we will look at the warehouses in the surrounding area being developed into a world class waterfront, while being careful to ensure and protect the conservation efforts in George Town.
I would like to congratulate RCCL and PPSB on the signing of this JV. With this collaboration, I would hope the story of George Town and Penang will continue in the same spirit such that the State will once again be a bustling maritime hub.