‘Modernised airport will be a boon’

Passengers waiting at Sultan Azlan Shah Airport in Ipoh. — Filepic

Tourism players feel better connectivity in Ipoh will attract more visitors, business investment

Perak tourism industry players are calling for the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport (LTSAS) in Ipoh to be upgraded.

Those urging the Federal Government and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to give the green light for the upgrading told StarMetro that a modernised airport would be a boon to the tourism industry and the state’s economy.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Perak chapter chairman Wendy Shin said an upgrade of the airport would enable it to handle more flights.

Currently, only two airlines have direct flights to Ipoh, namely AirAsia (Singapore-Ipoh, and Johor Baru-Ipoh) and Scoot (Singapore-Ipoh).

“Air connectivity is key to unlocking a country’s economic potential, be it for the business or leisure sectors.

“Better access to a wider marketplace will enable more business investment and will spur the tourism industry.”

Transport Minister Anthony Loke had on Oct 30 said the ministry had received a request from the Perak government to upgrade LTSAS.

Discussions were held with MAHB to look into the possibility of upgrading the airport’s runway and terminals.

Shin said, “The basic amenities like the waiting room need upgrading to provide more comfort for passengers.

“The check-in luggage system and immigration clearance process also need to be improved.

“I hope we can also get an aerobridge.

“There could even be additional international flights and domestic flights between Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).”

She said that currently, international travellers headed to Ipoh either had to drive from KLIA or connect by rail, and these journeys including transit time could take several hours.

“An additional two hours is also required for those who wish to take a flight from KLIA, thus it is more convenient if tourists flying from elsewhere can just transit at KLIA to get to Ipoh.”

Malaysian Budget & Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) Perak chairman Zamari Muhyi said without a modern airport with the latest facilities, the tourism industry players would not be able to penetrate the international market effectively.

“Perak was among the states with the highest number of domestic tourists.

“We also have a variety of attractions and products for foreign tourists.

“We welcome an upgraded airport and support the initiatives by the state and federal governments to create more opportunities to welcome more tourists.”

He said the state targeted 11 million visitors during Visit Perak Year 2024.

“With Visit Malaysia Year 2026 also looming, we feel it is high time the Ipoh airport was upgraded and we hope this can be hastened.”

Zamari, who is also Perak Bumiputera Tourism Entrepreneurs Association president, said while there had been talks of building a new international airport in the state, upgrading LTSAS was still the best move.

“We believe there is still too long a way to go before we can have a new airport.

“And it is not that easy (to get that done), so the best way is to upgrade the existing airport without affecting its existing structures,” said the national MyBHA secretary-general.

“A modern stylish airport will really help the hotel industry, especially MyBHA members.”

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