Challenges Facing Penang Airport As Medical Tourism Grows In the Malaysian Island

Penang International Airport (PEN) has been struggling to cope with the surge in passenger traffic due to the booming medical tourism industry in the state. On December 2, 2023, arriving passengers had to endure long queues, with some reportedly waiting up to four hours to clear immigration.


The problem was exacerbated by the fact that only five out of 12 immigration counters were operational that day. This led to long queues snaking all the way to the second level of the airport. Some passengers also complained that the toilets were filthy and overcrowded. The situation has caused frustration among passengers, many of whom took to social media to express their discontent. One passenger wrote on Facebook: "I've never seen such a mess at an airport before. It took me four hours to clear immigration. This is simply unacceptable."


The Penang state government has acknowledged the problem and is working with the airport authorities to find a solution. One possible solution is to increase the number of immigration counters. Another possibility is to introduce e-gates for immigration clearance.

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The surge in passenger traffic at Penang International Airport is a reflection of the growing popularity of medical tourism in the state. Penang is home to a number of world-class hospitals and clinics, which are attracting patients from all over the world.

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