LANGKAWI (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Five-star hotels on Langkawi island are reporting high occupancy with attractive promotional rates being offered as the Malaysian island is reopened for domestic travellers fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Kedah and Perlis deputy chairman Razmi Rahmat said there was an increase in bookings, with many five-star hotels maintaining an 80 per cent occupancy rate.
"Some of the five-star hotels even reached 100 per cent bookings since the reopening of the island to tourists on Thursday," he said on Friday (Sept 17).
He said promotional rates and tied-up programmes between several five-star hotels and airline companies were among the reasons why these hotels were most sought after by high-end tourists. He said tourists who flew in were mostly those who could afford to stay at the top-rated hotels.
He said these travellers had no other options except to spend their holiday in Langkawi, which was the first destination to be opened in a travel bubble scheme.
"They have been planning for this trip for so long, so when the opportunity came, they just grabbed it.
"Another reason is that these expensive hotels are now priced at an affordable rate," he added.
Mr Razmi, however, said the booking rate for four-star hotels and below was still slow as it reached only 40 per cent in occupancy rate on the second day of the reopening.
He said this could be due to a lack of ferry trips as the Kuala Kedah jetty is still under the enhanced movement control order (EMCO)until tomorrow.
"It will gradually pick up once the EMCO is lifted," he added.
Asked whether Langkawi hotels could cope with the increasing number of tourists on the island, Mr Razmi said the hotels were always ready and well-prepared for the reopening.
He said each hotel has its own standard operating procedure, in addition to the one given by the National Security Council for tourism players.
"Hotel staff members previously given unpaid leave have also been recalled, so there is no issue of staff shortages at all," he said.
After more than a year with hardly any tourists, Langkawi was brimming with domestic travellers on Thursday.
Entry into Langkawi is only by sea and air, and the authorities are ensuring only fully vaccinated tourists who have been screened for Covid-19 can set foot on the island.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Saturday one holidaymaker was found to be Covid-19 positive among more than 2,500 who were screened before entering Langkawi.
"On Saturday (Sept 18), a total of 2,507 individuals were screened through the Langkawi Tourism Bubble Pilot Project. Only one Covid-19 positive individual was identified through RTK-Ag at KLIA2. The Category 1 positive case was given a ten-day quarantine Home Surveillance Order (HSO)," Dr Noor Hisham said in the ministry's daily Covid-19 updates.
With a local population of 115,000 and almost 90 per cent of them fully vaccinated, the island is the first travel bubble in the country.