LANGKAWI is set for a tourism boost with the implementation of initiatives aimed at developing luxury accommodation, improving connectivity through an incentive programme and creating a tourism academy.
The Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) has been tasked to lead the three initiatives, which are part of the Langkawi Blueprint launched last December by the Malaysian prime minister to make the island a world-renowned destination.
The first initiative is geared towards the development of more elite accommodation options and commercial zones, according to Redza Rafiq, NCIA chief executive. It will yield a 268-room luxury property that will be managed by Ri-Yaz Hotels and Resorts by 2015, and five five-star properties by government-investment company Khazanah Nasional.
The second initiative will see NCIA, Malaysia Airports and the Ministry of Tourism coming together to develop the Langkawi Charter Flight Incentive Programme, which seeks to improve direct connectivity to the island by rewarding airlines and travel trade players for bringing in higher arrivals.
The third initiative is aimed at developing human capital.
Redza said: “The NCIA is working closely with the Ministry of Higher Education to launch a tourism academy to enhance the availability of industry-relevant skill sets in Langkawi.”
While Andy Muniandy, Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel director of sales, applauded the creation of a tourism academy, he was “not convinced” by the luxury hotel initiative.
“The island has enough five-star hotels. These properties are struggling as (bookings from) Europe – their target market – have dropped by 20 to 30 per cent. What is needed are more affordable four-star hotels,” he said.