LANGKAWI: It is almost unimaginable to see the famous Chenang Beach in Langkawi Island looks deserted, but this is the stark reality brought in by the Covid-19 pandemic following the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) since March 18.
Without the presence of local and foreign tourists alike, the normally bustling beach, which is synonym to its water sports and recreational activities, is now eerily quiet, a reflection of Langkawi’s tourism industry that has been adversely affected by the outbreak.
Langkawi Tourist Guide Association (LTGA) president Ardi Bahador said its 220 members who were the island’s ‘tourism ambassadors’ had lost their income and now contemplating their future.
“Majority of the association members are of full-timers, freelancers and the daily tour guides, that the presence of tourists have been their source of income. The current situation is very hard on them. Some did try e-hailing services and to operate online businesses but still cannot cope with the increasingly challenging life,” he said.
Ardi said association members were grateful for the one-off assistance of RM600 received for registered tour guides and still hoped for more assistance due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the tourism industry.
“There are members who have received the one-off assistance, while some are still in the process. In addition, we really hope the state government’s assistance to tour guides will be extended not only to the Kedah-born guides but also to members of the association who have been residing in Kedah for a long time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) chief executive officer Dr Hezri Adnan said the Covid-19 outbreak had a devastating impact on almost all residents, not only those from the tourism sector but also from other economic sectors.
He said Langkawi was a ‘green zone’ as the last Covid-19 patient had been recovered and discharged from the Sultanah Maliha Hospital, but the tourism sector was still unable to function during the MCO period.
“The tourism industry contributes 60 % to the island, so when the tourist arrivals drop dramatically the situation has become very challenging. There are about 150 travel agencies registered with the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and with no arrival of tourists, they will face the risk of unemployment.
“Also adversely affected are the ‘beach boys’ as they are unable to generate any income without the presence of tourists. In today’s Covid-19 situation, I do not see how international travellers can arrive in three months, but hopefully they will, in six months, perhaps,” he said.
Hezri said LADA currently in the midst of gathering ideas from the industry players for the best way to navigate the tough situation through offering attractive packages to domestic tourists. –Bernama