Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) is proposing the merging of Langkawi in Malaysia and Satun province in southern Thailand to create the first transnational UNESCO Global Geopark (UGG) in Asia.
According to The Star, LADA CEO Hezri Adnan said that he had passed this request to UNESCO, and that he will meet the Satun governor next month to discuss the matter.
Benefits cited include sharing the duties of conservation, managed development and promotion. The enhanced appeal of cross-border itineraries is also expected to significantly boost Langkawi’s tourism industry.
Situated in the Andaman Sea, both geoparks were formed at the same time during a massive tectonic event 550 million years ago.
“Geologically speaking, the Satun and Langkawi Geoparks are one and the same. Our lands share the same ancient history,” he was quoted as saying.
Langkawi was listed as a UGG in 2007, and Satun was awarded the same status last year.
Diethelm Travel Malaysia managing director, Manfred Kurz, supported the idea of combining both geoparks and marketing them together as one.
Travel between both geoparks currently take about 1.5 hour on a ferry ride.
He said: “Longhaul tourists usually like to see a few destinations in one trip. If the proposed is implemented, we will work with Diethelm Travel Thailand to work out a programme combining both. To further boost tourism, the authorities should ensure seamless immigration.”
Adam Kamal, general manager, Tour East Malaysia, said: “Both destinations have their own charm. Langkawi is rich in nature and natural attractions while Satun’s pull is its food and nightlife. Combining both destinations will provide clients with different experiences.”
As with any multi-destination itineraries, there may be extra visa applications work for certain nationalities, he reminded.