Starting from 16 September, Langkawi will reopen to tourists. The news was confirmed in a statement by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday (2/9), making the popular holiday island the initial ‘pilot destination’ in Malaysia’s recovery. More locations nationwide are expected to lift their travel restrictions in the weeks ahead.
“Langkawi was chosen as a ‘testing ground’ project to revive the tourism industry that has long been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic considering that the island is isolated,” said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri in a post on Facebook yesterday (2/9).
The decision to reopen Langkawi was taken by Malaysia’s National Security Council, which has also been renamed as the Special Committee on Pandemic Management. The change in name coincides with a change in strategy, as Malaysia starts to focus more on managing Covid-19 and less on attempting to eradicate it completely. At a briefing on Wednesday (1/9), Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said it is time for Malaysians to “learn to live with the virus.”
Other locations are expected to follow in Langkawi’s footsteps in the weeks ahead, provided they can achieve 80% vaccination rates first. According to Malaysia’s Ministry of Health, 84% of the adult population has received at least one dose, while 64% of people nationwide have been fully inoculated against the coronavirus. The Ministry have said they expect to achieve 100% vaccination coverage by the end of October.
Located in the state of Kedah, Langkawi is a popular getaway island that’s famed for its sandy beaches, mangrove forests, charming villages and duty free shopping. Isolated and self-contained in the Andaman Sea, the island’s travel bubble policy has been largely inspired by the success of the Phuket Sandbox scheme, just across the water in neighbouring Thailand.
Tourism Minister Nancy is confident that Langkawi can be the first of many locations to reopen in the weeks ahead. “The selected pilot destination has its own strengths, such as having a network of public and international flights, as well as having a variety of accommodation facilities for various types of the tourist segment,” she said this week.
“If this Langkawi pilot project is successful, I believe it can restore the people’s confidence to travel, because seeing is believing,” added the Minister.
To learn more about the many attractions Langkawi has to offer returning tourists, check out Panorama Destination’s Travel With Us blog.