Langkawi defies decline, tourist arrivals soar

Amid news of declining tourist arrivals in September and October, compared against the same period last year, the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) has come out to say that numbers for 2023 will still exceed last year’s record.

Langkawi, which is loved by local and international tourists for its picturesque islands, welcomed 2.57 million travellers in 2022. Between January and October this year, it had 2.2 million tourists, representing 69.9 per cent of the targetted 3.2 million tourists.

A string of events in November and super peak inbound in December will lift total arrivals for 2023

Azmil Munif Mohd Bukhari, manager of tourism division at LADA, told TTG Asia that a number of festivities and events in November were instrumental in boosting arrivals. These included the extended weekend of Deepavali last week, which coincided with the Langkawi Geopark International Enduro Mountain Biker challenge on November 12 and the Hari Mahsuri (Mahsuri Day) programme on November 18, which featuring a unique musical theatre and storytelling experience.

Furthermore, Langkawi International Half Marathon 2023 on December 2 is expected to draw more than 2,000 participants from 31 countries.

Azmil emphasised that December is projected to be a super peak season for Langkawi, mirroring trends observed in previous years.

However, he acknowledged the possibility that arrivals this year might slightly miss the targeted 3.2 million target.

He explained: “The arrival target for 2023 was set in late 2022. During that period, we anticipated a significant influx of Chinese outbound tourists, but regrettably, this expectation has not materialised. The presence of outbound travellers from China has been limited, not only in Langkawi but worldwide.

“Additionally, certain international carriers that were operating flights to Langkawi before the Covid-19 pandemic have reported a shortage of planes, preventing them from resuming flights to Langkawi post-lockdown.”

Azmil is confident that 2024 will mark the best post-lockdown year ever for Langkawi. To further enhance air connectivity, LADA has introduced a new incentive for scheduled airlines flying new routes to Langkawi effective January 1, 2024. It will provide a one-off US$10,000 to the airline.

Additionally, Langkawi is set to be the host destination for Routes Asia 2024, taking place from February 27 to 29. This event will serve as a platform for the region’s airlines, airports, tourism authorities, and aviation stakeholders to meet and share best practices.

He believes that hosting Routes Asia 2024 and providing senior-level airline executives with the opportunity to experience the island will lead to an increased number of international airlines initiating direct flights to Langkawi.

Air connectivity will see further improvement when flydubai initiates daily flights to Langkawi next February, and AirAsia commences direct flights from Kualanamu, Medan in Indonesia from March 2, 2024.

Itaka, one of Poland’s biggest tour operators, will also launch charter flights to Langkawi from winter 2024 for three consecutive years, shared Azmil.

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