Langkawi has experienced a drop in domestic tourists over the years and the pandemic accelerated the decline.
The Langkawi Tourism Association (LTA) said Langkawi is at risk of being a “ghost town” due to the decrease in domestic tourists landing on its shores.
As it stands, hotel bookings for the upcoming Deepavali holidays hit a record low with hotels rated three stars and above only 10% booked and 58% are expecting to face losses.
To help improve the economy, LTA urges the government to do something to promote the island and charm domestic tourists.
A Langkawi local confirmed that tourism on the island was already decreasing pre-pandemic and the decline accelerated post-pandemic. Langkawi used to have a good number of tourists all year round except during Ramadan.
Why are locals not flocking to Langkawi beaches?
Langkawi used to be a popular tourist destination among locals too. However, after the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysians complained of skyrocketing prices on the island.
Locals lamented that the prices of food and accommodation in Langkawi have increased and foreign tourists felt the pinch too. Some said the cost of getting to the island has also gone up.
Due to this, many would rather go to cheaper holiday destinations abroad such as Thailand or Bali, Indonesia.
The high living costs these days are also keeping more people at home than actively going to holiday destinations. At most, they rather head to Sabah, Sarawak, or Penang for the food.
Aside from this, locals also feel like there’s not much to do or no new things to do around the island, especially if you’ve seen it all.
They pointed out that most beaches have been turned into private hotel beaches with only a few public stretches remaining.
Other complaints include the hassle of renting cars in Langkawi. Some have said the car rental companies do not honour the agreement. More often than not, customers receive a different car in poor condition than what was agreed.
However, there might be another reason locals and foreign tourists aren’t putting Langkawi high on their beach holiday list.
The stringent restrictions imposed on tourists by the PAS state government also do not help put Langkawi in a great light.
Nobody wants to holiday with the morality police.Facebook user
Several people have also brought up the sexist remarks made by Langkawi MP Datuk Mohd Suhaimi Abdullah towards Seputeh MP Teresa Kok in parliament.
On 30 October, Kok asked about the dress code, especially if shorts were allowed in Langkawi. This stemmed from reports that tourists were harassed and questioned by enforcement officers due to their clothes.
Mohd Suhaimi then insinuated that it would not make a difference if Kok chose to wear nothing at all. His remarks were met with boisterous laughter from the male MPs present.
Kok said she was left shocked and puzzled as she believed she asked a legitimate question that needed to be addressed if they wanted to boost tourism in Langkawi.