Kedah has more than just Langkawi

If all the attractive destinations in Kedah are well-promoted, the tourism industry can generate substantial income and help to boost the country's economy.

03 Feb 2024 08:00am
Photo for illustrative purposes only. Original photo - 123RF
Photo for illustrative purposes only. Original photo - 123RF

LANGKAWI Island has always been known as the jewel of Kedah, with its first GeoPark in Southeast Asia and the legend of Mahsuri.

However, now when Langkawi Island is mentioned, what comes to mind is the expensive food on the legendary island.

In 2021, Langkawi became associated with expensive seabass, when customers were forced to pay RM1,196 for a seabass dish weighing about seven kilogrammes (kg).

The issue of unreasonable food prices resurfaced in Dec 2023 when a receipt went viral showing the price of plain water at RM5 in a restaurant in Pantai Chenang.

However, the restaurant owner apologised and claimed it was due to his staff's negligence in entering the drink’s code.

Before the RM5 plain water issue subsided, Langkawi once again grabbed attention when a customer was charged RM20 for a plate of turmeric fried chicken at a stall on Pantai Cenang.

Although not a native of Langkawi, as a native of Kedah, this writer is still concerned that the issue of ‘bloodsucking’ food prices may affect everyone when tourists are afraid to visit Langkawi and also Kedah.

Moreover, viral issues including Langkawi being labelled as a ‘ghost island’ previously are feared to affect the ‘Tahun Melawat Kedah 2025’ (TMK 2025) campaign.

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Just because of a few negative stories, visitors may be reluctant to come to Kedah.

In reality, Kedah not only has Langkawi but there are many other interesting places to visit.

It houses historical remains of Kota Putra (400 BC), Ancient Rome (800 BC), Borobudor (800 AD), Angkor Wat (1200 AD), Majapahit (1300 AD) and even the Malacca Sultanate (1500 AD), namely the Batu River Civilisation.

Not to be missed, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the carpet of clouds at Bukit Telipong, Felda Batu Lapan in Kubang Pasu without having to fly to Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Rock Village, Kampung Kura in Sik is the best choice for visitors seeking tranquillity while enjoying the beautiful panorama in a Chiang Mai, Thailand-like campsite.

For those who enjoy hiking activities, Gunung Bintang, the highest peak in Kedah, should be on the list of mountains to conquer.

Sedim in Kulim is famous for White Water Rafting activities, in addition to the Tree Top Walk canopy route spanning 925 metres (m) which held the record for the longest canopy route in the world for several years.

These destinations are among the hidden gems of Kedah besides existing tourist attractions such as Pekan Rabu, Menara Alor Setar, Masjid Zahir, Gunung Jerai, and Langkawi Island itself, which should be visited during TMK 2025.

Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said the state government introduced TMK 2025 to boost the tourism industry in Kedah and as preparation for the organisation of Visit Malaysia 2026.

He said RM3 million was allocated for the purpose of tourism programmes and promotions to prepare for welcoming tourists during TMK 2025, while another RM1 million was allocated for development projects, maintenance work, and upgrading of tourism facilities.

If all the attractive destinations in Kedah are well-promoted, the tourism industry can generate substantial income, thereby helping to boost the country's economy.

Therefore, everyone should play their part in promoting Kedah and collaborate to dispel negative perceptions of the entire rice bowl state.

*Nurul Hidayah Hamid is a journalist for Sinar Harian Utara.