KUALA LUMPUR: Langkawi hopes to attract investors to develop its high-end retail, health and education sectors, as it forecasts RM4.25 billion in tourism receipts this year over 2, 5 million tourists expected, according to Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) CEO Nasaruddin Abdul Muttalib.
“Currently, we do not have a large shopping complex or high-end outlet in Langkawi, so most of our international tourists will continue their vacations in Kuala Lumpur or Penang, purely for the purpose of shopping. ( We hope) that we can have high-end outlets and high-end shopping complexes in Langkawi so that (tourists) can spend more time and more (money) in Langkawi,” he said. declared. SunBiz in an interview.
Nasaruddin noted that Bina Darulaman Bhd is developing a high-end outlet next to Langkawi International Airport which is expected to be completed in 2024. The project has a gross development cost of RM233 million.
Additionally, Lada aims to make Langkawi a top choice for health tourism for which it hopes to attract tourists from neighboring regions such as southern Thailand and northern Sumatra.
“We believe that if we can complete the package with good international medical services, it will make Langkawi a better destination. We can arrange this health tourism for people in southern Thailand and northern Sumatra,” he added.
Nasaruddin said a few companies have approached Lada but none have secured development approval so far. It is open to any proposal to develop its health tourism.
Lada also sees an opportunity to grow its education sector, especially international schools, driven by the growing number of expatriates in the region.
Nasaruddin said international schools are able to meet the needs of expatriates in Langkawi and the northern region, including Kedah and Penang. More and more expatriates are also coming to Kulim and Sungai Petani.
“We believe Langkawi is a good destination for international schools, including international campuses for universities. We have good connectivity with flights. We expect these students to stay in hostels (and that) international schools (have) boarding schools. We are in talks with a few investors but all are still in the planning stage. But this is the (sector) that Langkawi seeks (to develop).
“Basically, we want Langkawi to be the first choice destination for domestic and international tourists. In fact, we (Malaysia) need a destination that can compete with other international destinations in this region. We believe that Langkawi can represent Malaysia well for this purpose (international tourism standards),” he remarked.
Nasaruddin said there are currently 10 five-star hotels on the island and hopes to attract more high-end hotel investment.
“Coming soon is ParkRoyal which will start operating in December. In the pipeline we also have an upcoming Hilton hotel in Burau Bay which is expected to be completed in 2024,” he said.
On leasing land to investors, Nasaruddin said interested investors can deal directly with Lada to expedite the process, subject to Lada’s approval.
“In total, we have over 2,500 acres of land. Some have already been developed (and) some are still being negotiated. But we still have over 500 acres to offer for development by investors,” he said.
Nasaruddin is optimistic about the outlook for tourism this year, but pointed out that there are still countries imposing strict travel restrictions, which makes it difficult for Lada to attract more tourists to the island. Nevertheless, he believes that 2023 will be better than this year, for the tourism industry.
“We believe that more and more countries will streamline their travel procedures.
For 2023, Lada expects 3 million tourists which it says will generate revenue of RM6 billion.
“Tourism remains our main objective. For next year, our goal is to increase the number of international tourists coming to Langkawi with the assumption that more countries will facilitate their travel procedures and we hope that China will open up next year and that (will help ) really in terms of tourist numbers for Langkawi,” Nasaruddin said.