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ITB Berlin News - Day 2

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ASIA REGION 39

ASIA REGION 39 ADVERTORIAL © The Dilly Lama © Nick Lubushko The Langkawi Sky Bridge above the rainforest canopy Cenang Beach, Langkawi Langkawi’s Natural Wonders Malaysian island state spotlights ecotourism Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands on Malaysia’s tropical west coast that is surrounded by turquoise sea and covered in picturesque paddy fields and jungle-clad hills. A duty-free designated zone that has long attracted visitors come to purchase tax-free goods, the island is rapidly gaining favour among nature lovers looking to explore South-East Asia’s first UNESCO-designated Geopark, excellent diving opportunities, and to relax on beaches of powder-fine sand and swaying coconut trees. Tan Sri Khalid Ramli, Chief Executive Officer of the Langkawi Development Authority, is at ITB Berlin to tell world about Langkawi’s push into the high-end travel market, and to promote its eco-tourism credentials. He started off by telling ITB News about the focus on Langkawi as a premiere eco and Geopark destination. We have rebranded Langkawi as “Naturally Langkawi”, and are promoting ourselves as a natural island destination to international visitors. In 2007 we became the first UNESCO Geopark in South East Asia and we have recently been revalidated. This is a very important leverage to promote Langkawi’s natural assets. It is recognition of our unique geological formation created about 550 million years ago. Our competitive advantage is that visitors can travel from island to island within close vicinity, plus we have beautiful beaches and mountains. In addition, we have one of the steepest cable cars in the world that traverses a mountain rich in flora and fauna. From the top you can appreciate and experience the beauty of Langkawi. The government has also recently announced that Langkawi will be the first low carbon island in Malaysia through renewable energy incentives and so on. This is again a plus for us because it will further add to our Geopark status. What are your strongest traditional markets? Are you looking to expand into new market segments? Visitors from Europe and Russia once topped our arrivals but it’s changing. We increasingly have new visitors from the Middle East and India, and last year Chinese arrivals topped the list in terms of arrivals to Langkawi for the first time. In the last couple of years, the trajectory of overall arrivals is on the increase. We are now targeting high value tourists to come to Langkawi because they like nature. Many new luxury resorts are being built, including a Selfridges Hotel that will soon be completed. It will be one of the best Selfridges in the world in terms of location because it is facing the sea and borders mountains where guests can see many animals including monkeys. In addition to establishing Langkawi as a high end destination for the global eco and geo tourism market, we are looking to increase the length of stay. In previous years this was two days on average, but now we see an increase to four or five days, which is very important. What do you want to achieve at ITB Berlin? We always identify ITB Berlin as a very important market for us to promote Langkawi. This is where we are targeting the European market, especially the Tan Sri Khalid Ramli CEO, Langkawi Development Authority Nordic countries, Germany and the UK. Langkawi is very popular with UK visitors to Malaysia, a majority of whom come to the island. We are also talking to many parties, including the Nordic countries, about having more direct flights from Europe to Langkawi, and to TUI (the leading German tourist agency) about their large cruise ships that increasingly come to Langkawi. We have upgraded our jetty for this reason, but also because we have 4 million people travelling between Langkawi and the mainland every year. Hall 26A / Stand 121 WE HAVE REBRANDED LANGKAWI AS “NATURALLY LANGKAWI”, AND ARE PROMOTING OURSELVES AS A NATURAL ISLAND DESTINATION TO INTERNATIONAL VISITORS. ITB BERLIN NEWS • Thursday 10 th March 2016

ITB Berlin News