Langkawi travel bubble will jump-start regional tourism

Seat sales to the island have been strong since the announcement of its reopening to fully vaccinated individuals, AirAsia says 

By SHAFIQQUL ALIFF / TMR FILE PIX

AIRASIA Group wants to capitalise on an expected demand for travel with the opening of the Langkawi travel bubble to stimulate post-Covid tourism. 

AirAsia Malaysia CEO Riad Asmat said seat sales to Langkawi have been strong since the announcement of the reopening of Langkawi for fully vaccinated tourists last week. 

He said pent-up demand is driving ticket sales and will greatly fill up AirAsia’s planned 90 weekly flights to the island. 

“We have prepared extensively and implemented robust and comprehensive health and safety protocols to ensure all of our guests can travel safely. 

“Our crew can bring our guests to their favourite island destination safely as well, from an operational standpoint,” he said. 

Riad said AirAsia’s self-check-in system on their Super App, which integrates health data to seamlessly verify travelling eligibility, including vaccination status, will ensure smooth flights. 

“This is certainly a step forward in our digital-led transformation journey and we cannot wait to welcome everyone safely on board again,” he said. 

Meanwhile, AirAsia Super App CEO Amanda Woo said they are pleased to join hands with Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) to reinvigorate the economic and tourism recovery in Langkawi.

She said it is starting with the introduction of a new duty-free shopping experience for travellers with island-wide delivery. 

“The digitalisation of duty-free shopping in Langkawi through our AirAsia Super App will power Langkawi up as the Asean’s first online duty-free shopping destination. 

“By the end of September, for the first time in Malaysia, customers can order Langkawi duty-free products online and have them delivered straight to their hotel within the same day,” she said. 

She said AirAsia will offer free delivery for all purchases, as well as special discounts to their guests at their partner hotels during the launch campaign. 

“Together, we will revive the domestic tourism industry and continue to make Langkawi the top holiday and shopping destination in Asean.” 

At the same time, Lada CEO Nasaruddin Abdul Muttalib said they targeted 400,000 visitors for the reopening and hoped for a great start for Langkawi as they anticipated. 

He said he believes AirAsia’s initiative to mount new routes will help boost Langkawi’s potential as a premier island destination among domestic tourists. 

“We hope their arrivals will help us to achieve our economic goals, other than to also ensure Langkawi remains as the top-of-mind holiday retreat for worldwide tourists. 

“To all tourists, please adhere to the standard operating procedures while enjoying your holiday on our pristine island. We look forward to offering an amazing, safe and healthy tourism experience to all visitors,” he said. 

In a separate but related development, Langkawi lawmaker Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said manda- tory testing should be imposed upon tourists’ arrival to the island. 

“Langkawi is opening up for tourists. But I think mandatory testing on arrival at entry points is still necessary as a precautionary measure,” he said on his Twitter post. 

He said this in response to a statement made by Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri who said tourists to Langkawi will not be subjected for Covid testing. 

The famous island is set for reopening tomorrow as a tourism bubble pilot project. 

Fully vaccinated travellers have the option of going to Langkawi by air and land with a movement permit from the police. 

According to Nancy, travellers by land need to use the services of tourism agencies or at least transport services from the starting destination to the ferry jetty to Langkawi. 

“Travel agencies will help tourists to apply for permits from the police to travel to Langkawi. The number of passengers per vehicle allowed while travelling to Langkawi is subject to the vehicle capacity.”