Langkawi tour operators want clarity on interstate travel for green zones

There is public interest, but unclear directions and hefty fines force them to cancel their plans


LANGKAWI-BASED tourism industry players, which are currently surviving with between 10% and 15% occupancy rate, have urged the government to issue clearer guidelines on interstate travel for tourism between states under the Recovery Movement Control Order.

Langkawi Tourism Association CEO Zainudin Kadir said there was public interest, especially those from the green zone areas, to visit Langkawi, but unclear directions and hefty  fines have forced them to cancel their plans.

“The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry must give an explanation on the standard operating procedures and clear guidelines to travel agents and industry players for a better understanding.

“There are many people from the green zones who want to come to Langkawi, but they are confused. The RM10,000 compound is scaring people from travelling, too,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

According to Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, interstate travel is still not allowed, even between areas designated as green zones.

“Currently, interstate travel is only allowed through travel agencies, as we will know the details of the trip. If they go with a tour company, their trip will be notified to the police, who will then know which area they are going to and their travel itinerary,” he said in a daily press conference recently.

Zainudin said interstate travel through travel agencies does not help the industry’s recovery and there is a need for the government to allow the use of private vehicles.

“People who want to travel with their family including kids are not comfortable to take a bus or van under travel agencies because the risk is high.

“At the moment, only 10%-15% of 15,673 rooms, including hotel, resort and budget hotel in the island, are occupied. The domestic tourists that came to Langkawi so far are from Perlis, Terengganu and Melaka,” he added.

Echoing the same sentiment, the Malaysian Association of Hotels Kedah and Perlis Chapter chairman Eugene Dass said there is a need to push for quicker vaccination and re-look at interstate travel.

He stressed that a priority must be given to the tourism industry as many jobs are depending on it.

“Restart aggressive promotions abroad to stir interest towards Langkawi being a choice destination. This will create a watermark in the minds of travellers once international travel is allowed.

“Langkawi duty-free status to remain besides its other attractions as it is a pull factor for sure. Disallowing this to continue will affect tourism in Langkawi,” he told TMR.

Meanwhile, MBH Utara Sejati founder Mahizan Hussain said his car rental service business is seriously affected until he has to sell four out of 10 cars as he has to pay for existing loans.

Mahizan, who started the business in 2015, also works as a Grab driver said his income dropped 95% during Movement Control Order 2.0.

“Tourists who use Grab and rent car services usually know Langkawi well. They don’t want to take a travel agent because it is expensive. Not every tourist is well-off.

“Hence, we are really affected despite interstate travel being allowed as it is limited through travel agencies. For now, I did follow my friend to go fishing in the sea to diversify my income sources,” he told TMR.

Read our previous report here

Interstate travel, even among green zones, not allowed: Ismail Sabri