THE allegation by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing that the ban on alcohol consumption and stringent dress code are primary reasons for the decline in foreign tourists to Langkawi is nothing but slander and lies.
Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said an investigation by relevant state authorities on the matter found that no ban has been issued by the state agency involved on the matter.
“In fact, the Tourism Minister himself came up with an adverse campaign and publicity against Langkawi and the tourism agency. The minister should be transferred to another ministry,” he told a media conference after chairing the Kedah state EXCO meeting at Wisma Darul Aman in Alor Setar.
Instead, Sanusi who is also a two-term Jeneri state assemblyman attributed the current cost of living pressure as one of the factors that hinder locals from spending on travels.
Moreover, direct flights from foreign countries have yet to commence except from Singapore while cruises, too, have not really taken off when both modes of travelling contributed the most to Langkawi tourism prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Langkawi was visited by almost 60% of foreign tourists while the locals only accounted for 40%,” revealed the Kedah PAS deputy commissioner. “Direct flights (except from Singapore) haven’t started with one from Dubai (by budget carrier Fly Dubai Airlines) only slated for Feb 10 next year.”
Given such situation, the onus lies on Federal government agencies such as the Tourism Ministry and Tourism Malaysia to play a role instead of leaving it to the state government to shoulder such responsibility.
Henceforth, Sanusi contended that the allegations made by Tiong who is also the Bintulu MP had only compounded the problem with a bad effect that ultimately kept foreign tourists away from Langkawi.
“After all, both the tourism industry and Langkawi are the country’s tourism assets and not Kedah’s alone. This includes ferry services that are under the jurisdiction of the Transport Minister,” he asserted.
“Although Langkawi is a duty-free island, the Federal government also needs to consider some other decisions such as taxation to guarantee more competitive prices to attract more tourists to Langkawi.”