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Arrival Revival: Langkawi reopens to fully jabbed domestic travellers

Langkawi is the first holiday destination in Malaysia to welcome back visitors as part of a domestic tourism bubble. If successful, it could see other holiday destinations following suit in a bid to revive the economy.

Langkawi is the first holiday destination in Malaysia to welcome back visitors as part of a domestic tourism bubble. If successful, it could see other holiday destinations following suit in a bid to revive the economy.

Hundreds of holiday-makers have flocked to Malaysia’s northern resort island of Langkawi as it reopened on Thursday 16 September.

Known for its beaches, geoparks, birdlife and impressive rock formations, Langkawi, a group of 99 islands, is the test case in a drive to allow vaccinated domestic travellers to take part in holiday activities under agreed health protocols.

The first tourist flight to touch down was greeted by a twin water cannon “salute”, in the launch of a programme to revive a travel sector frozen by the pandemic.

The 159 travellers from the capital, Kuala Lumpur, arrived eager for a holiday after a month-long, nationwide lockdown imposed to address one of Asia’s highest per-capital coronavirus infection rates.

“My last holiday was last year … countless months already, I felt like I’ll go mental also soon,” said Beverly Tiew, 42, from Kuala Lumpur.

“So I’m excited and super, super happy and I’m thankful that the government is open about it and we can come and travel.”

Langkawi
Langkawi Sky Bridge

The Langkawi #ArrivalRevival project is similar to Thailand, which has opened Phuket and Samui islands to vaccinated foreign tourists, while Indonesia’s Bali and Vietnam’s idyllic Phu Quoc island plan to follow suit.

Malaysia, however, has yet to allow foreign tourists to return.

Langkawi, in the Straits of Malacca, is not expecting huge visitor numbers initially, with a target of 400,000 people by the end of the year, and projections they will spend 165 million ringgit ($39.66 million).

Visitors to Langkawi must comply with strict health protocols, including proof of a negative COVID-19 test before arriving on the island.

Three-quarters of Malaysia’s adult population is fully inoculated.

Source: AAP