LANGKAWI, Sept 19 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is generally satisfied with the progress of the Langkawi tourism bubble pilot project, but the former prime minister feels that there are still many things that can be improved to ensure the success of the initiative.
The Member of Parliament for Langkawi said that among the things that the government should give attention to is the standard operating procedures (SOP) related to the process of entry of tourists to the island as well as compliance with SOP by tourists while here.
“For example, tourists who come by ferry and car they need to get a police permit. This slows down their journey and some of them cannot meet the conditions (to come to Langkawi).
“Regarding distancing between tourists, we find that they are often (being) close (to other tourists), not complying with the condition to stay away from other individuals as far as one meter, so this may have an impact later,” he told reporters here today.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir was given a briefing on the development of the Langkawi tourism bubble pilot project by Langkawi Development Authority chief executive officer Nasaruddin Abdul Mutalib at a hotel here.
Dr Mahathir said the number of passengers on planes and ferries to Langkawi should also be reduced so that passengers do not sit too close to each other to avoid any risk of COVID-19 infection.
He said the frequency of flights or ferry trips should be increased to reduce passenger capacity at any one time, because according to him, about 2,000 tourists come to Langkawi using air travel, and 700 use ferry services every day.
“So the number coming in by air is very big and they are sitting very close together as if normal. Although there are a lot of actions being taken to prevent people from getting infected, when we discussed it, we feel that we should reduce the number of passengers so they are able to seat far apart,” he said.
He also suggested that the government learn from what happened in a neighboring country when they decided to open up tourist spots there, but were closed again after an increase in cases of COVID-19 infection.
Commenting on the impact of the pilot project on Langkawi, Dr Mahathir said although the number of tourists was still small, it gave a lease of life to the resort island, especially for traders, and believed the situation would improve after this.