• Tuesday, Sep 28, 2021
  • Last Update : 06:17 am

Malaysia holiday hotspot readies for reopening with tourism bubble

  • Published at 11:27 am September 15th, 2021
Malaysia
Photo shows empty chairs at The Datai Langkawi resort beach, as Langkawi gets ready to open to domestic tourists, Malaysia on September 14, 2021 Reuters

Langkawi, in Malacca Strait, will reopen to fully vaccinated travellers on Thursday


Businesses at Malaysia's prime holiday destination are gearing up to welcome the return of tourists this week, as the country takes an early step towards recovery from a devastating coronavirus crisis.

Langkawi, a cluster of 99 islands in the Straits of Malacca, will reopen from September 16 to fully vaccinated travellers as part of a domestic tourism bubble, with strict protocols in place to thwart the spread of the coronavirus.

Restaurant owner Esther Lee said she was excited the bubble was finally being launched.

"Finally we can welcome customers and this is actually our main source of income to survive," she said.

"We have like staff under us, we have overhead costs to bear so we definitely need dining customers," she added.

The plan is similar to that introduced in Thailand, which started with the July reopening of Phuket, 220km (137 miles) north of Langkawi, to vaccinated foreign tourists. Malaysia has yet to invite foreign tourists to return.


Also Read - Fully jabbed tourists to be allowed to Bangkok, top cities next month


Like Phuket, Langkawi, known for its beaches, geoparks, birdlife, and rock formations, is not expecting huge numbers initially, with 400,000 visitors targeted by the end of the year and estimated revenues of 165 million ringgit ($39.66 million).

"We still do not want congestion even though we need a high number. What is important is that we can control the tourists to ensure their compliance," said Tuan Nasaruddin Abdul Muttalib, head of the Langkawi development authority.

Malaysia has recorded two million coronavirus cases overall among its 32 million population, one of Asia's highest per-capita infection rates, with more than 20,000 deaths.

Its vaccination program has progressed faster than its neighbours, with more than half the population inoculated, in the hope of a quicker return to normalcy.

"A big sign of relief, the team is ready, everybody is very happy to welcome you know, our local tourists again," said Arnaud Girodon, general manager of luxury resort The Datai Langkawi.

"We can't wait to see them back."

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