Langkawi needs to diversify its range of tourist attractions

GEORGE TOWN: One lesson which the authorities need to learn from the malfunctioning of the Langkawi cable car system, is a need to diversify its range of attractions on the island resort, according to a veteran tourism practitioner.

There are several other attractions such as the Langkawi Wildlife Park and the Crocodile Park, but what the industry needs are ones which can compete with the cable car, offering a healthy competition that is good for the industry, said Ahmad Pishol Isahak.

Pishol, who used to head the Langkawi Tourism Association and the Malaysian Association of Travel and Tour Agencies (Matta), said that the island resort needs to move away from being cable car-centric.

"We need to showcase more attractions on the island, particularly in sustainable tourism such as eco-tourism where nature and the pristine scenery of the island is an attraction. We can inculcate about perserving the environment too."

The malfuctioning of the cable car system on Sunday evening was reportedly due to a faulty bearing, which Pishol believes could be due to the great demand for the service.

Despite that incident, several hours later hundreds of tourists continued to flock over to ride the gondolas up to Gunung Matchinchang, Pishol noted.

"It is good that the incident has apparently not done any damage to the industry but we need to expand our list of attractions to accommodate the demand from tourists."

If the attractions are diversified, then the spillover effects from tourism can be better felt and distributed throughout the private sector, Pishol said.

He noted that it was ironic that the cable car attraction is funded and managed by a subsidiary under the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada), which is a public sector entity.

"It means the returns from tourism are dominated by the public sector in Langkawi when it should be led by the private sector," said Pishol. The public sector should be complimenting the efforts of the private sector rather than playing a dominant role, he reasoned.

His views were echoed by tour guide A. Gunasegaran, who said that tourism arrivals may show signs of a statistical increase but on the ground, another picture is painted.

"Only tourists from China seemed to be coming. We seemed to have lost the European market. Westerners are coming but not in figures of the past," he claimed.

A spokesperson with Lada said that the cable car was one of many attractions at the Oriental Village, which houses the base station of the service.