LANGKAWI,. Eighteen new programmes, including on tourism, will be implemented in Pulau Langkawi within the next five years that will bring more benefits to residents, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He made the announcement during a dinner event in conjunction with his visit to the island last night.
The island will get an Urban Transformation Centre (UTC). There are now 21 UTCs nationwide.
The Government will allocate RM100mil for the SME Bank, to be given in the form of loans ranging from RM25,000 to RM250,000 for Langkawi business operators who run chalets, motels and sundry shops. The interest rate is 5% a year, of which 2% is subsidised by the Government.
Small businesses will get a RM5,000 grant beginning June 1, while Teraju will provide grants to 200 small-scale bumiputra Langkawi businesses.
A total of RM112mil will be provided to upgrade the Langkawi Tourism Academy, while a business hub will be set up in Pantai Cenang, to be modelled after the famous Chatuchak Market in Bangkok.
A Langkawi Premium Outlet will also be built with a private sector investment of RM200mil, while a private hospital will be created with the cooperation of the Langkawi Development Authority and KPJ Hospital.
On the expansion of Langkawi International Airport, Najib said it is expected to be completed in September, which will increase passenger capacity from 1.5 million a year to three million a year.
“The Government is working to attract more foreign airlines to provide direct flights to Langkawi,” he said.
Wi-Fi services will also be provided at public places in Langkawi, on the ferry services and the airport.
Najib said Tourism Malaysia is collaborating with China’s Tencent Holdings to create 40 promotional videos on the island that will be watched by 980 million Chinese and 10 million Malaysians.
Tourism TV will also be set up to promote Langkawi tourism, with a two-hour daily slot to be exclusively given to Langkawi.
Najib also said the island’s entrepreneurs will be given help with licensing.
“Tourism industry operators like tour agencies, tour drivers and boat operators will be exempted from licensing fees for one year, and the applications can be made in the next six months,” he said.
Najib did not forget about Langkawi’s natural environment and ecosystem.
A total of RM9.1mil was allocated for solid waste management and cleaning work in the nearby islands and Kilim Geoforest Park.
Earlier, Najib spent 15 minutes mingling with local residents during a walkabout at the Telaga Walk in Pantai Cenang.