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CAMERON HIGHLANDS: After almost two years of almost zero visitors, Cameron Highlands is once again filled with tourists who took advantage of the long Deepavali break. A drizzle did not stop them from coming from as far as Kuala Lipis, Pahang, Gua Musang, Kelantan, or Simpang Pulai, Perak to visit the popular hill destination. The cold weather was the main attraction for the tourists, apart from the popular Kea Farm, tea farm, strawberry farm and flower garden.

Checks found majority of the hotels and homestays were fully booked for the past week and main roads heading to Cameron Highlands was slow moving.  YZ Strawberry Farm operator Zulkifli Zahari, 61, said it was a breath of fresh air for hotel and other tour operators who have suffered for long time. "Things are back to normal with many buying strawberries after almost two years," he said.

A tourist from Pasir Mas, Kelantan, 48-year-old Zahari Alias said he came with his wife and four children for three days after almost two years of no sightseeing. Adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOP) such as recording body temperatures and wearing face masks did not stop them from enjoying their visits there. Visitors to Kea Farm were told to record their names and contact numbers, wear face masks, before they were allowed to enter the premises.

Alias Shamsuddin, 65, from Pekan, said the arrival of tourists was a blessing for the traders there. However, the price of some of the goods seemed a bit pricey compared to before. "Previously if a kilogram of strawberries was RM30, it was now sold at RM45 to RM60 at Kea Farm. A 200 gram packet of strawberries previously sold at RM7 was now sold at RM10. "One corn milk drink (jagung susu) used to be sold at RM2.50 per piece but now is RM3.50, pearl corn (jagung mutiara) also now increased to RM10," he said. He said he hoped traders would not take advantage of the tourist arrivals but instead be creative to attract more tourists to stay longer.