Exclusive Interview – Dato’ Haji Azizan Noordin – LADA CEO and PATA Vice-Chairman
LADA was formed in 1990 to oversee the development of Langkawi, primarily to attract investments, as well as to build tourism, and to develop the local community. Dato’ Haji Azizan Noordin is not only the CEO of Langkawi Development Authority (LADA), but was recently elected Vice Chairman of PATA and Chairman of the organisation’s Government Destination Sub- Committee. We asked Dato’ Azizan how tourism is progressing for the island destination.
I WOULD SAY CLOSE TO 95% OF BUSINESSES ON LANGKAWI RELY ON TOURISM.
Since I came in, I have been putting a lot of emphasis on the “low lying fruits”, and especially on events. We had 35 events last year alone in the tourism sector, averaging around three a month. They included the Royal Langkawi Classic Car Show, Royal Langkawi Superbike, some extreme sports, even beach volleyball, with the world FIVB coming here. All these things are attracting more and more people to Langkawi. Naturally the airlines are doing their bit, with new flights to the island and expansion works to the air terminal, expanding capacity by around 20%. In the past, I worked with Tourism Malaysia, which gave me a lot of contacts, and we are getting a lot of attention from the airlines. Air Asia have increased their flights. Not only from Kuala Lumpur, Guangzhou and Singapore, but now from Shenzhen, Johor Bahru and from Kuching in Borneo, and China Southern Airlines are flying three flights a week to Langkawi from Guangzhou. The airport is currently handling 3-million passengers a year, and by the end of 2018 that could rise to 4-million. For 2020, our target is 5-million tourists.
How important is tourism to your economy?
I would say close to 95% of businesses on Langkawi rely on tourism. That’s why this year, we have to really step up with our promotion, and consequently I have been receiving a lot of enquiries about investment. We are getting quite a lot of inquiries about setting up hotels. Currently, we have around 10,500 rooms in 3-, 4- and 5-star properties, not counting Airbnb and budget hotels.
What would you say are the three “key selling points” of Langkawi?
Number one is the Geopark status. We have the clear blue sky, the pristine seas and beaches. Number two is the attractions within that. We have the mountain and the cable cars, we have the boat rides to go the islands, we have the Laman Padi… everything is very unique in Malaysia, the region, and indeed even the world. Thirdly I believe it’s the culture and the people.
Photos: Dato’ Haji Azizan Noordin, LADA CEO & PATA Vice-Chairman.