Businesses at Malaysia’s premier holiday destination are gearing up to welcome the return of tourists this week, as the country takes an initial step toward recovering from a devastating coronavirus crisis.
Langkawi, a group of 99 islands in the Straits of Malacca, will reopen to fully vaccinated travelers from September 16 as part of a domestic tourism bubble with strict protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Restaurant owner Esther Lee said she’s excited that Bubble is finally being launched.
“Finally we can welcome customers and this is really our main source of income to survive,” she said.
“We have the kind of employees under us, we have overhead costs so we definitely need customers dining out.”
Like Phuket, Langkawi, known for its beaches, geoparks, birdlife and rock formations, is not initially expecting large numbers, targeting 400,000 visitors by the end of the year and 165 million ringgits. ($39.66 million) has an estimated revenue.
Tuan Nasruddin Abdul Mutalib, head of the Langkawi Development Authority, said, “We still don’t want overcrowding, even if we need more numbers. The important thing is that we can control tourists to ensure their compliance.”
Malaysia has recorded a total of 2 million coronavirus cases among its 32 million population, one of Asia’s highest per capita infection rates, with more than 20,000 deaths.
Its vaccination program has progressed faster than that of its neighbors, with more than half the population vaccinated in hopes of a quick return to normalcy.
“A great sign of relief, the team is ready, everyone is very happy to welcome you, our local tourists know again,” said Arnaud Girodon, general manager of the luxury resort The Datai Langkawi.
“We can’t wait to see them back.”
Datai Langkawi resorted to image via Reuters.
Credit : www.cnn.com