Langkawi’s Quandary: Just a Load of Rubbish?

January 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Langkawi Island is no stranger to the travel industry, being one of Malaysia’s top tourist destinations. An archipelago of 99 islands, it sits off the coast of Kedah state, in pristine blue waters. Many hotel chains have built luxury resorts in Langkawi, and offer tourists exclusive getaways on this tropical island, away from the humdrum of everyday life. at their own little slice of paradise. The natural beauty of the island augments the lavish environment of the hotels, creating little slices of paradise.

Idyllic beaches conjure up images of a tropical paradise

It goes without saying that tourism is the lifeblood of this island, and contributes as much as 80 percent to the total economy. The island hosts a number of high profile international events, including the Royal Langkawi International Regatta, and most recently, Le Tour De Langkawi once again. But the biggest event associated to the island has to be the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition, which is held every two years. It is the biggest airshow in Asia, and never fails to draw a huge crowd whenever it is in town.

Langkawi also boasts of a marine park, known as Payar Island Marine Park, which is a top dive site on the Straits of Malacca. Although other sites like Sipadan Island and Mabul Island in Sabah are world renowned, Langkawi’s proximity with Malaysia’s bigger cities like Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur makes Payar Island Marine Park a popular destination for weekend divers.

While Langkawi’s popularity is certainly a boon, the sheer number of visitors also is the cause of its greatest problem, pollution and waste generation. In the rush to capitalize on the island’s natural assets, certain important aspects have gone undeveloped, including environmentally sound practices. In addition, the rapid development in certain areas of the island has caused the unintended destruction of its forests.

An impressive lighthouse stands at the front of a new marina in Langkawi

Certain concerned parties, like the Malaysian Nature Society, have voiced their concern over the need to implement a greener lifestyle in Langkawi. One of the first steps that have been idenitified is to reduce the use of plastic bags, through the implementation of a No Plastic Bag Day. According to the Malaysian Nature Society Langkawi Branch, the implementation of such a day would not be much of a problem, as Langkawi has a smaller population when compared to Penang Island, where a similar program has been running for the past two years.

According to Eric R. Sinnaya, the Malaysian Nature Society Langkawi branch chairman, the society intends to work together with Langkawi’s authorities to implement such a measure in order to reduce the generation of waste on the island. While he acknowledged that the immediate gains from such a measure would be minimal, it would translate into a sustainable effort in the long term. A greater understanding of the impact of human’s daily life on nature among Langkawi’s population was also needed if green initiatives there are to actually work. He was optimistic that Langkawi would embrace these initiatives, and that the island would reap the benefits in the future.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply