|Fernandes (second from left) presenting a souvenir to Najib in Langkawi|
LANGKAWI: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak launched AirAsia's direct flight from here to Shenzhen, China.
The new route is expected to further develop Langkawi as a world-class tourist destination.
AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes thanked Najib for officiating the direct flight on Saturday.
"Last year, the Prime Minister launched our direct flight from Guangzhou to Langkawi.
"Leadership takes courage and it is courageous leadership shown by the Prime Minister to support AirAsia in reducing the airport tax which for years Malaysia Airports had resisted.
"Today, we see that value of his brave leadership. Direct international tourists have increased from 83,754 in 2015 to 187,433 in 2016 – an increase of 120 per cent.
"This represents a contribution of RM300mil to GDP, based on the 12 times multiplier effect," Fernandes said in his speech.
He said 2016 was the first time when international tourists outnumbered domestic tourists.
"We are driven by this and already this year we have flown over a million tourists to Langkawi with our 238 weekly flights from Langkawi.
"But we want to get to the three million mark and contribute a large part to the Langkawi Development Authority’s (LADA) target of RM9bil revenue.
"Our vision is that we will make Langkawi as connected as Phuket, if not greater."