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Malaysian art festivals spring back to life

Live performances return for the first time since pandemic lockdowns

The George Town Festival returns for its 12th edition this year on the Malaysian island of Penang. (Courtesy of George Town Festival)

GEORGE TOWN, Malaysia -- After 20 months of COVID-19-related travel restrictions, the Chinese shophouses that line the streets of George Town, a tourist hot spot on Malaysia's northwestern island of Penang, have rolled up their metallic awnings and dusted off their sidewalk frontages.

With 95% of its adult population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Malaysia's economy is slowly picking up after the lifting of an interstate travel ban on Oct. 11. More than 27,000 domestic tourists arrived in George Town in the following week, and large numbers of international travelers are expected when the country's international borders reopen on Jan. 1.

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