Langkawi raises game plan

LANGKAWI: Langkawi’s duty-free status will continue as new development plans unfurl to attract theme park attractions and lift the island’s holiday status to compete head-on with island destinations such as Thailand’s Phuket and Indonesia’s Bali.

The federal government is considering a broad slate of plans and incentives to draw more tourists to the island.

Among the plans are projects to offer tourism experiences in the mountains and the islands around Langkawi.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said recently that the island’s mangrove swamps were also unique attractions and should have facilities to enable tourists to enjoy them.

“We will endeavour to conserve the mangrove areas, but we need to have more facilities for tourists. If this (mangrove swamp) is interesting but cannot be seen, it is useless,” he told reporters recently.

Local news channels reporting on the north Malaysian holiday island said “several proposals would be discussed with the federal government to propel Langkawi forward as an attractive tourist destination, which could compete with island destinations in neighbouring countries.Earlier, it was reported the island’s duty-free status was under review, but following national elections and the appointment of new federal government the proposal was squashed.

Government statements at state and federal level suggest the intention now is to raise Langkawi’s game plan to compete and reverse negative trends in tourist arrivals.

One proposal focuses on forming a Langkawi Tourism Board that would specialise on tourism development and promotions.

At present tourism is a sector promoted by the Langkawi Development Board (Lada), which also supervises a broad range of industries.It is understood the island’s travel industry supports the proposal and feedback will be presented to Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is also Langkawi’s member of parliament.

Langkawi status as one of just a few duty-free destinations in the ASEAN region will be enhanced in 2019 with new features geared to boosting tourist arrivals by air and cruise ship.

The island is targeting tourist revenue of MYR9 billion in 2020 according to the latest budget reviews.Earlier this year a new MYR86 million airport terminal opened that can handle 4 four million passengers up from 1.5 million per year. This year through to November, LGK handled 1.3 million tourists compared with 2.7 million during 2017.

Officials said the objective was to turn the island into a tourism gateway for North Malaysia and ensure the country became a preferred aviation hub in the region.

Among the airlines operating at LGK are AirAsia, Firefly, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo, Scoot and China Southern.More airlines are now considering direct scheduled and seasonal charter flights.Langkawi attractions

The world’s longest free span mono-cable car up one of the steepest cable car inclines in the world to the peak of Mount Machinchang.

A trip on the Langkawi SkyCab to see the Langkawi Sky Bridge, one of the most distinctive bridges in the world.

Langkawi Crocodile Adventureland, home to nearly 4,000 crocodiles, making it the largest crocodile farm in Malaysia.

Darulaman Sanctuary, one of the island’s newest offerings in eco-tourism that opened last May. The 200-acre park is located in the centre of the island in Lubuk Semilang, a 18-minute drive from Kuah town.The park offers guided walks along a 2km trail to learn about the local flora and fauna, including species such as the Great Hornbill.

There is also a guided jungle trek or night walk, where they can spot different nocturnal animals.

The 70-metre zipline at Naam Paradise 101 is now a popular activity for visitors.

Langkawi Craft Complex located in the Teluk Yu area, is a one-stop centre where visitors can support local entrepreneurs by purchasing quality local handicrafts and explore the various heritage museums on the premises.