LANGKAWI: Once, one of Langkawi’s most sought out beaches, Cenang is now at risk of losing its charm due to over-development, which is driving tourists away.
What was once a tranquil seaside village, with its long stretch of pristine beach, is now hazy with dust from ongoing construction and heavy traffic along the main road.
A tourist from the Netherlands, Hendrik, who visited Langkawi a few years ago, said this trip would likely be his last to Cenang beach as it had turned into a chaotic, dirty and overcrowded place.
In his review posted on TripAdvisor, an American travel-related content website, he said: “Some time ago I wrote a positive review about Cenang Beach. Unfortunately, Langkawi government has allowed numerous budget hotels and chalets to be built along Cenang Road to increase tourism in Langkawi and Cenang Beach in particular.
“The result is it becomes chaotic, dirty and overcrowded. I have said goodbye to Cenang Beach forever,” he wrote.
Hendrik claimed that businesses such as numerous counters for water sport operators, water scooters and cars with trailers had crowded out the tourists who battled for a spot at the beach.
German tourist, Gunter D, described Cenang beach as a beautiful and attractive tourist spot in his review.
However, he suggested that tourists should try out the northern part of Langkawi, where several beaches are located – such as the famous Tengkorak beach, also known as Sandy Skulls beach, Pantai Kok beach, Shark Bay beach (Teluk Yu) and many more.
“The (Cenang) beach is wonderful but full of people, cars and jet ski transporters. Try to go to the northern part where there are less people,” he said.
Another tourist, Kai Xin C, also advised other tourists to visit and stay at Tengah beach which, according to her, is less crowded compared to Cenang beach.
“This beach is less crowded. I came here for parasailing because they have stopped doing it at Cenang beach due to the crowd,” she wrote.
Supporting the comments, a villager, who only wished to be known as Pak Non, said that Cenang beach had changed over the years.
Despite the development, he claimed that it was “too much” and that the beach had lost its attraction.
“There used to be small chalets and budget hotels, but now they have developed it further.
“The beach has become overcrowded and it is not the same anymore,” Pak Non told FMT.
A local business operator, who wished to be known only as Tony, expressed his concern over the massive development planned at Cenang.
Tony claimed that further development in the area had caused massive congestion in terms of traffic.
“What about traffic in Cenang which is already bad during the busy period, can we still afford any more high-rise buildings here?
“We cannot compare with our neighbours such as Phuket and Bali as their developments are all low rise and give a nice ambience,” he added.
Meanwhile, Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) senior assistant director, Tourism Division, Razaidi Rahim, claimed that it was following proper guidelines to avoid uncontrolled development on the island.
Razaidi said the development of hotels and chalets in Langkawi was important as part of the strategy to cater for the tourist traffic.
He added that the development also benefited the locals who ran businesses in Langkawi as it attracted more tourists to the island.