A lot of efforts had been made to position Langkawi into one of the attractive tourist destinations globally. Events such as the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exposition (LIMA) and De Tour De Langkawi are among those efforts. However, where things are at the moment, I am sure you will agree that places like Phuket and Bali are miles ahead of Langkawi.
One of the issue that I find about Langkawi is its value proposition to visitors? Is it a resort island for people to experience peace and tranquility or it is a duty free island where people can buy cheap crockery and liqueur or people come to Langkawi for its amazing scenery? I still feel that there is no clear compelling value proposition being offered by Langkawi.
One of the challenges that we face when competing with other places is the service level offered and the quality of our services. Indonesians and Thais are well known for their excellence service quality, especially in tourism related areas. Can we claim the same for Malaysians? We may argue that the standard of living in those countries are lower, hence people are more hungry for work. Well, our cost of living are not low, therefore our people still need to earn descent income to live a descent life as well. Why are we not performing the same?
Do we need to build more facilities? For example, there is only one operating 18 holes golf club in Langkawi, one is under repair and there is a nine hold course. This is certainly not enough to entice golf ears to come as there is not enough courses for them to play. Perhaps what is missing is a master plan which captures the wholesomeness of Langkawi's offerings to the world. The plan cannot be a one man's vision. It should be embrace by everybody, especially the people of Langkawi. They are the one who will be responsible to deliver the success, not others. Unfortunately, as usual, we will wait for the government to do something, an attitude which will not unleash entrepreneurial potential. We need the government to facilitate but government is not everything. Perhaps an alien concept for many Malaysians especially in rural areas.
Fortunately there are still plenty of space in Langkawi which could be developed. The challenge is into what and by whom? I would certainly hope that this beautiful island will eventually be one of the tourism destination of choice with its natural beauty intact and the benefits shared fairly amongst its population.