Langkawi sees huge tourist interest

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KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism operators are seeing a surge in booking inquiries into Langkawi holiday packages ahead of the tourism bubble programme for vaccinated travellers, which starts on Sept 16.

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Tour agencies and business operators in Langkawi have started making changes on their premises to make sure they are in accordance with the National Security Council’s (NSC) standard operating procedures (SOP) and recommendations.

Tropical Charters chief executive officer and Langkawi Business Association deputy president Datuk Alexander Isaac said tour operators had been inundated with booking inquiries.

“We are excited to be back in action.

“We are grateful for the travel bubble programme and are looking forward to reopening safely, under strict SOP.”

He said tour agencies and business operators had started making preparations to ensure that they complied with the SOP.

The NSC and Langkawi Development Authority under the Mysafe Travel’s Ceria programme, he said, had carried out a five-day course for all tour, holiday agencies and food and beverage operators to provide training on SOP requirements.

“Tour agencies and operators have taken the safety courses to equip themselves with knowledge and safety preparations,” he said.

“The training equips tour operators, tour agents and resort workers with information on what to do or not to do when we reopen.

“They, too, have been taught how to respond to an emergency situation, like whom to call and what to do, which will be helpful in running the sector,” he told the New Straits Times.

Isaac said in his tour packages, he had included the RTK-antigen tests for all his guests upon arrival to the island.

“This is a precautionary measure that we have taken to resume operations.

“For those who stay longer than five days, we will repeat the RTK-antigen tests as a precautionary measure from our side.”

He added that 92 per cent of the island’s adult population had been fully vaccinated.

Isaac, who is Malaysian Lang- kawi chairman and Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents adviser for the Kedah/ Perlis Chapter, said tour operators must not take the SOP lightly after having been shuttered for almost 18 months.

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“This is a pilot project for the government and if it fails to keep the numbers down or a surge happens, the rest of the country may not be able to reopen soon for tourism.”

He called on tourism operators to adhere to the SOP when they reopen.

He said Langkawi operators needed the public’s cooperation to ensure the success of the programme.

“The spirit of ‘kita jaga kita‘ plays an important role when we reopen.”

He urged visitors who found any operator flouting the SOP to lodge a complaint with the NSC, Health Ministry or the police.

He urged visitors to show support only to operators who followed the SOP strictly.

Daya Sakti Travels and Tours operations manager Suresh Navaratnam said the onus of staying safe was on travellers themselves.

While welcoming the move to reopen the island, he said the SOP required full cooperation from travellers.

“This (adhering to the SOP) is important. We, as tour agents, will enforce the SOP and keep an eye on tourists to ensure that they follow them.

“We will issue reminders from time to time, but the onus is still on them.

“There is always the risk of infection, so it is imperative to not let your guard down while on holiday.

“If travellers are careful with what they do and obey the SOP, then everyone will be safe.”

Suresh said hoteliers, restaurateurs and tourism operators had been told to ensure that customers practise physical distancing, wear face masks, and use hand sanitisers frequently, while ensuring that public amenities and premises were frequently sanitised. -NST