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Well That Didn’t Take Long: Langkawi Tourism Bubble Already Branded a ‘Success’

Langkawi's famed Dataran Lang (Eagle Square)
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Four days in, Tourism Minister Nancy Shukri wasted no time in declaring the initial travel pilot programme in Langkawi a successful effort.

Langkawi, a popular holiday island off the coast of Kedah in far northwest Malaysia, was chosen as the pilot project for the country’s travel bubble initiative, and the effort has proven to be a success since it commenced on September 16, said Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

For those of you keeping track at home, today is September 20.

But jokes aside, even though it’s been only four days — and probably a little too soon to be branding the initiative a roaring success — the launch weekend certainly delivered enough good news to likely serve as a roadmap for other travel destinations in Malaysia to follow suit, and soon.

With some 9,500 tourist arrivals, Ms Shukri noted that there had been no Covid-19 cases recorded among visitors in these four entire days, a statistic recently reported by Kedah Health Director Dr Othman Warijo. (It may be worth pointing out that Covid-19 can take up to two weeks to be detected, but… well, nobody seems to be too concerned about that.)

“We can see the potential of Pulau Langkawi, which is the [pioneer] model, that has been a success,” the Tourism Minister said, adding, “Generally, other tourism destinations, especially in areas like Genting Highlands and Fraser Hill, have achieved a 100% rate for full vaccination and are ready to reopen. Tomorrow, [there] will be a meeting to discuss the opening of interstate tourism.”

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture (MOTAC) previously set about 200,000 domestic tourists as a target to visit Langkawi from September 16 until December, in light of the island’s tourism industry being reopened under the travel bubble pilot scheme.

MOTAC has forecast about 30,000 travellers to visit the island this month, so if you’ve not yet booked your September travels and want to help MOTAC make good on its predictions and hit those numbers, now is the time.

With a robust beginning, and no major glitches reported, the initiative seems to be off to a good start! We certainly hope this positive track continues as the shift to learning to live with Covid-19, rather than trying to eradicate it, takes shape.

For our part, if the Ministry really wants to give Langkawi travel bookings a serious boost, they should consider increasing the duty-free allowance until the end of the year as an incentive. We’d suggest tripling it.

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