Poised to become one of the world's top 10 eco-tourism hotspots, Langkawi stands as Malaysia's only Global Geopark designated by UNESCO - comprising 99 islands that together make up the legendary Langkawi Archipelago. Nature's rolling hills, beautiful coastal areas and charming traditional Malay villages co-exist harmoniously as the island is well on track with robust plans towards becoming a world-class destination for meetings, conventions and exhibitions, upping its appeal to incentive groups in the region and beyond.
Langkawi is a regular host of annual and biennial events, including the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition, Le Tour de Langkawi, and the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. With its strategic position between Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, a multilingual people, tropical weather and favourable exchange rate, it is a popular destination for such events.
Top of choice for many MICE decision makers is the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC), the island's state-of-the-art venue conveniently located adjacent to Langkawi International Airport.
The recently concluded PATA Travel Mart 2018 in September was held here, hosted by Tourism Malaysia and the Langkawi Development Authority. It attracted more than 1,400 delegates from 70 global destinations. Groups that seek to be closer to nature may opt for Langkawi International Convention Centre, a stunning 3.42-hectare facility set amidst a tropical rainforest.
Langkawi is currently connected to four domestic and five international destinations, which recorded combined frequencies of 238 weekly flights in 2017. And there are signs of "more interest from foreign airlines to operate from here," said Malaysia Airports acting group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin.
In anticipation of a growing global market, the Langkawi International Airport embarked on an expansion project last year, upgrading terminal facilities to reduce congestion and improve operational efficiencies. Today, the refreshed airport is capable of managing four million travellers per annum, a substantial leap from its previous 1.5 million capacity. Chartered flights are also on the rise, encouraged by the Langkawi Charter Flight Incentive Programme, which rewards lead charterers with cash fundings.
The port in Kuah - the island's main town - is another entry point as Langkawi also boasts four marinas: the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, Telaga Harbour, Rebak Island Marina and Resorts World Langkawi. These berths welcome ferries, yachts and cruise ships from Malaysia and Thailand.
As a further sign of its burgeoning appeal and international presence, Langkawi is flush with luxury hotelier names and beachfront resorts such as the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa, The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, The St. Regis Langkawi, The Andaman, Langkawi and Resorts World Langkawi.
New international players, The Ritz-Carlton, Ri-Yaz Group and Aloft Hotels entered the scene this year, and with The Park Royal Langkawi Resort slated to open its doors by 2020, there's definitely a hotel to suit a group's needs and style.
Barely two months in business, The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi has already entertained group enquiries for 2019, from industries varying from banking and IT to oil and gas.
"As the resort pays homage to the identity and heritage of the island, we greet the international creative and bold travellers who are looking for unique experiences amidst an exquisite sense of place," said Zulkifli Rahman, director of sales and marketing.