GEORGE TOWN: Voters are calling off holidays initially planned around Nov 19’s polling day so that they can cast their ballots.

Aside from room bookings, a check with hotels showed that bookings to use hotels as event venues were also postponed.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Penang chapter chairman Tony Goh said that when asked, those holidaymakers who wanted to cancel replied that they were postponing their holidays and events to be able to head to the polling stations.

“However, we are hopeful that bookings will pick up at the last minute.

“Normally, hotels are not busy during these periods,” he said.

The same is happening in Kedah, according to MAH’s Kedah and Perlis chapter chairman Eugene Dass, who said the cancellations mainly comprised government events.

“Cancellations are still coming in and we have received about 15% to 20% cancellations as of now.

“We expect the number of cancellations to go up as the date gets nearer.

“As for the hotel occupancy rate, it is still at its normal rate, which is around 50%, and we have not reached its peak yet.

“The trend during the last election was that the occupancy rate would pick up nearer to the polling date.

“However, I foresee only an uptick this coming election as Kedah is only contesting in the parliamentary seats and not the state seats,” he said.

A few holidaymakers interviewed said they were willing to forego their holidays for the sake of exercising their right as voters.

Logistics manager Thomas Ng, 37, said he had cancelled his trip to Bangkok so he could vote.

“I bought my flight tickets and hotel stay in June. They cost me about RM1,000.

“This was to be my first overseas vacation since the Covid-19 pandemic. I was supposed to go with my secondary school friends from Nov 15 to 19.

“Now, I have no choice but to cancel my trip.

“My flight tickets will be burned as I could not postpone the trip,” he said.

Freelance photographer Amanda Lim, 28, cancelled her trip to Johor for a friend’s wedding because she would be voting in Ipoh.

“My high school friend is getting married on Nov 18, a day before polling.

“A few friends and I will skip the event. We feel voting for our country’s future is more important.

“Well, we can always plan another trip,” she said.