Langkawi Needs a Convincing Cenang Beach Town

Langkawi Needs a Convincing Cenang Beach Town

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Langkawi Pantai Cenang Beach

Langkawi really needs a convincing beach town to compete effectively with the likes of Phuket, Bali and Hawaii. A thriving resort town in any large destination is part of the visitor experience and is responsible for helping to increase average-length-of-stay. Unfortunately for Langkawi the development of Pantai Cenang is seriously lagging. Even Malaysian’s complain there is nothing to do there.

Even, island resort new entrant, Bintan Resorts has master planned the greater Lagoi Bay area to become a significant regional player with 10,000 keys at full development.

Hub & Spoke Resort Destination Development Model

Existing resort development models with scattered hotels do not scale up for one simple reason. There’s no attractive central hub of activity. What is essentially missing is the hub and spoke model. It applies not only to resort destinations but is readily apparent in business cities and downtown cores. Just like CBDs and shopping streets so too resort destinations need to have a ‘Central Resort District’.

Tourist Market Expectations

Imagine a destination where there are only isolated resort hotels and nothing else. The beach may be great but what else do you do? This approach may suit the European vacation market. But if you’re catering to the Asian traveller you should re-think the strategy.

Asian markets like shopping and food. If it’s a family deciding a vacation the wife must have some shopping expectation. Else they might just as readily head for Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hongkong or Shanghai.

Positive Impact on Overall Length of Stay

More important, is the length of stay. The more reasons you give a tourist to stay longer the happier the hotels, local businesses and tax authorities will be. Length of stay isn’t just determined by how many tourist attractions you’ve got. It’s also determined by the attractiveness of the resort town and especially the shopping, F&B and nightlife (and not necessarily in the same vein as what makes Patong tick).

Comparative Resort Town Footprints

Scroll down to view the satellite images showing Cenang, Patong, Waikiki and Lagoi Bay at similar scale. These 4 beaches are about 3.5 kilometers long. Some resort towns go deeper inland like Patong. But they essentially occupy the same land area.

Where they differ is the development density. Cenang has a lower density compared to Patong and Waikiki. While Lagoi Bay is planned to be denser than Cenang it’s probably not as dense as Patong or Waikiki.

Proposed Development Direction for Langkawi

What’s the planning solution to make Langkawi an attractive beach resort destination?

1. Increase the development density of the Cenang core.

2. Develop a FBR Zone (retail, F&B, entertainment core) as part of the higher density hotel core.

If we were to re-zone and re-develop 25% of the existing land available in Cenang with a higher density (up to 5 floors maximum) we can easily gain around 4,000 hotel keys. Download the calculations below for details.

Outcome of the Proposal

At 250,000 annual visitor arrivals per 1,000 hotels keys this translates into an additional 1.0 million annual visitor arrivals for Langkawi (you can download the sample calculations below).  Current arrivals are hovering around 2 million annually. These additional rooms will bring tourist arrivals up to 3.0 million.

At an average of 250 keys per hotel we’re looking at around 16 new hotels.

At the same time new hotel investments are estimated between RM1.8 billion (assuming development cost of RM 450,000 per key).

Blueprint details are not publicly available yet. However, we hope Langkawi Development Authority already has similar plans in place for Langkawi. You may also be interested in this post – Langkawi’s Tourism Blueprint: What’s Missing.


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See Also:

Some Malaysian’s perspective on Langkawi’s Tourism Development



Langkawi Cenang Beach Resort Town Re-development Proposal Calculations here.

How to Calculate Projected Visitor Arrivals.


Location Map


Langkawi Development Authority press release :

Langkawi , 8 December 2011

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak released a stunningly-ambitious Tourism Blueprint today that promised to put Langkawi on par with world-famous island destinations like the Seychelles, Mauritius, Bali, Hawaii and the Maldives. The action plan, which combines the development programmes for Langkawi from 2011 through to 2015, was unveiled at a press conference at the Westin Langkawi.

The prime minister added that the implementation of the action plan is expected to boost the island’s tourist arrivals to three million in four years and revenues up to RM 3.8 billion while providing 4,200 new jobs. He estimates that the implementation of the master plan will require a RM 5 billion investment, with 52 percent of the amount coming from the private sector. The Prime Minister confirmed that the government will allocate RM420 million next year, as provided in Budget 2012, to carry out developments outlined in the master plan.

He also hoped that the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) will immediately address the threat of beach erosion in Cenang because it is the island’s most popular tourist beach. Najib said the plan provided a holistic development project for Cenang that would significantly alter its appearance, making it a commercial and recreational hotspot for tourists.


 Comparative Resort Town Sizes (all maps of similar scale)

 Pantai Cenang Langkawi (Beach : 3.5 km)

Pantai Cenang Langkawi

Patong Beach Phuket (Beach : 3.5 km)

Patong Beach Phuket

 Waikiki Hawaii (Beach : 3.5 km)

Waikiki Beach Hawaii

 Lagoi Bay Bintan ( Beach : 3.5km )

Lagoi Bay Bintan

Images : Google Earth, Marc van der Chijs


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