Dr M worried about ‘bleak’ situation in Langkawi

(FMT) – Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has voiced concern over the fate of Langkawi’s economy, particularly the tourism industry, because of Covid-19.

In a blog post, the Langkawi MP said although the island is a Covid-19 green zone, the situation was bleak because of restrictions on travel.

He said there had been signs of a recovery in the past few months but a spike in infections had seen the number of inbound tourists drop recently.

“Traders are complaining, many shops are closed, some close only for a while but there are those who have closed for good.

“Tourist attractions (including restaurants) are quiet and many rental vehicles are sitting idle because there are no passengers,” he said.

In 2019, Langkawi recorded some 3.92 million tourist arrivals, providing an estimated RM1.7 billion revenue to the 4,900 businesses on the island. Close to 70% of the island’s 110,000 residents rely on the tourism industry.

Mahathir said there were many ways and ideas to improve Langkawi’s economy but so far, the government had not given the green light for these ideas, perhaps because of Covid-19.

“But if planned properly and taking into account the SOPs, the tourism industry can be improved,” he said, without specifying the ideas to improve the local economy.

He said it may not be possible to eradicate Covid-19 in the near future but the people needed to earn a living.

“They need to be given opportunities or the country’s economy will suffer. Maybe someone in the government can hear the cries of small traders and take them into consideration,” he said, adding he would help give more ideas.