by Ian Mclntyre
TOURISM in Langkawi has become a daunting challenge due to the shortfall of tourists following the sluggish global economic outlook since the start of this year.
It is also understandable as the island resort, like many other similar destinations have to grapple with the consequences of some two years of worldwide lockdowns due to Covid -19, which has left those who survived the pandemic, facing the rising living costs.
The tourism industry has also suffered from an acute shortage of workers, unfriendly financiers, who are unwilling to extend loans due to the poor business climate.
The climate is rivet with inflation, credit crunch and rising costs in operations due to salary demands and food costing.
The industry also has to deal with climate change, which causes heatwaves and heavy rains.
But ingenuity comes amid challenges and in Langkawi, two travel trade members have decided to innovate to offer an unusual mix of tourism packaging.
First, is one of the three big cruise service providers – Tropical Charters Sdn Bhd, who operates all kinds of cruises, especially its signature sunset cruising.
It is now offering a unique package following its owner Datuk Alexander Issac’s move to invest in a resort.
TC Garden Resort in Jalan Ulu Melaka, near the Air Hangat Hot Springs, has a unique setting, as it is located within the range of the mangroves and forest reserve settings on the island.
Langkawi is not only about beaches, but it also has a unique ecological setting, including rock formations which are the oldest in the region.
With more than 20 specially designed villas, Alexander told The CEO that he plans to incorporate a special package to mark the Merdeka celebration, which now dates from August 31 until September 16 – Malaysia Day.
A patriot, Alexander said that he is tailoring his package to first suit Malaysians before plans are afoot to tap the foreign market.
“I want Malaysians to enjoy the best that Langkawi can offer even though there is now a rise in living costs and a constant dismay over the poor performance of the ringgit.”
Alexander also decided to answer critics directly by offering a package of RM588 for two persons, saying that Langkawi can be affordable if everyone works hard at it.
Working hard is second nature to the self – made entrepreneur, who decided to take a step back from the hustle and bustle corporate world by investing in the tourism scene here.
But he found that he still needed to work doubly hard to get his vision realise.
By investing in a restaurant – Red Sky, the cruise and now resort, Alexander has invested in an ability to meet the majority cravings of tourists except perhaps shopping.
His package of RM588 includes a twin villa / deluxe king villa at TC Garden Resort with a sumptuous breakfast, a sunset cruise with dinner for two, a 48 – hour car rental and a visit to the crocodile adventure land for two persons also.
The cruise is one of the memories worth pursing as besides pictorial scenes where one’s smartphone would be kept constantly busy with the clicking, another is a dip in the waters, as his special yacht cruise through the pristine waters from Porto Malai to Kuah.
The cruise is about 12 nautical miles each way and the boat docks off some of the 99 islands surrounding the main one of Langkawi to allow guests to dip into the water.
Swimming is allowed but not too far from the vessel.
A night at the resort is to sample the greenery life, which many forefathers of Malaysians had experience when they came over to the island.
Enjoy an evening of tranquillity, while also enjoy BBQ dinner possibilities.
There is even space dedicated for memorable weddings or seminars, accommodating up to 150 guests and meeting rooms for 30 people, which are well equipped.
Alexander is also upgrading the resort to offer a swimming pool and trekking.
Over at 22km away, is the Greenish Village, which are managed by veteran hotelier Lwrence B.S. Cheah and hotel manager Kumar Krishnan.
Lwrence is also offering an innovative – approach to the world of hospitality by upgrading the hotel in Kuah, which is adjudged to be the safest because it is located opposite the Langkawi district police headquarters in Jalan Air Hangat.
Lwrence will first do away with the numbering of the floors in the hotel, instead giving each floor a village name or a tourism enclave name so the guests would be thrilled to enjoy something different.
“For example, one will not be staying at rooms on what floor number but perhaps a room in the Air Hangat Village floor.”
The hotel will also offer glamping and camping facilities near its swimming pool.
Guests can choose between staying in tents or rooms, but they will also get to enjoy the facilities from dining to swimming at its spacious pools, said Lwrence.
Lwrence also pledges to offer reasonable rates for the guests, saying that he too shares what Alexander wants to espouse, which is that touring Langkawi can be an affordable process.
He lamented after reading reports that despite the ringgit depreciation, Malaysians are flocking to neighbouring Songkhla/Haadyai in southern Thailand and Medan, Indonesia.
“This shows that Malaysians crave travelling but they also want new experiences, which the local destinations must aspire to provide. I think glamping and camping provides an adventure. We can also offer star gazing activities,” said Lwrence.
It is hope that both the attractions brought by Alexander and Lwrence can galvanise the tourism scene here and restore the island’s reputation as a preferred getaway.