LANGKAWI - To add to its attractions, Langkawi can also be a top nautical tourism destination in the world.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak expressed his optimism here and outlined the prerequisites necessary.
"We need a few anchor investments and top-class brand names to be the game-changers to bring Langkawi on par with the likes of Bali and Monaco," the Prime Minister said at the ground-breaking ceremony for the St Regis Hotel and Langkawi International Convention Centre (LICC) in Kuah yesterday.
With 84 suites, 11 villas and a convention centre, the hotel has been estimated to cost more than RM400mil (S$200 million).
To be developed by the Rajawali Group and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, the project is targeted for completion before the ASEAN Summit scheduled here in April 2015.
Najib said the impact of turning Langkawi into a luxury nautical holiday spot would benefit many, particularly the local population.
"Thousands of tourists come here to spend, generating revenue not only for companies but also the Government.
"If we have a large number of high-end tourists spending their money here, Langkawi can really be transformed," he said.
The Prime Minister said tourist arrivals in Langkawi had exceeded the target set under the Langkawi Tourism Blueprint 2011-2015 with 3.06 million people, which was the target set for 2015.
He said the Government wanted to attract more high-end tourists to Langkawi and get them to spread the word "about Langkawi being among the very best in the world".
Najib said the St Regis Hotel project would be a race against time with 15 months left before the ASEAN Summit.
He said the reward would be the ASEAN Summit also bringing the international spotlight on Langkawi.
Also at the event were Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Rajawali Corp chairman Tan Sri Peter Sondakh and Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.