Langkawi will again host Langkawi Live One Earth Music Festival - an exciting music festival featuring some of Malaysia’s and the region’s most prominent musicians from 2-3 November 2012. Langkawi Live 2012 will maximise the picturesque beachfront setting of the Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa which will again play host to this year’s event.
An important component of this festival is the focus on the local Langkawi environment and in particular the Rivers Project. The Frangipani Resort is not only home to the festival but it is also one of the greenest resorts in the region as it has won several major awards for its environmental initiatives.
Resort Managing Director and part owner of Langkawi Live, Anthony Wong has championed these environmental initiatives for well over two decades. He will share these ideas with several informative guided walks at Frangipani Langkawi during the Langkawi Live Festival.
Being located next to a river that flows onto Pantai Tengah and into the Andaman Sea, the Frangipani Langkawi owners and managers are conscious of protecting the very resource that international and local tourists travel all the way to Langkawi to enjoy.
Mr. Wong claims: “Langkawi’s drawcard for tourists is undoubtedly its beaches and islands and if we don’t protect these, tourists will not come here. The rivers, forest, seas, geology and the people of Langkawi are all linked together as part of the island’s ecosystem and what happens in one part of the island affects what happens in other parts. The rivers link the forests to the sea and changes to one affect the other. Langkawi is quite unique in the region as it is basically undeveloped with only three of the 99 islands having any form of development on them. This is a very powerful tourism message to the world but if we don’t look after these islands, the tourists will go elsewhere as there are many other options in the region.”
Through his company Asian Overland Services Tours and Travels Mr. Wong was one of the first in the country to recognise the potential of Taman Negara, Malaysia’s largest national park, as an eco tourist destination. He initiated homestay programmes in the park and in Borneo in the early 1970’s. Over the years he has worked closely with the tourism authorities to develop the Green Guide Certification course which was later adopted by Tourism Malaysia.
Mr. Wong is currently the only person in Malaysia teaching initiatives for green hotels in tertiary institutions and is working with engineers and architects to develop a Green Hotels rating system that incorporates a Green Building Index (GBI). At the present moment, twelve Malaysian universities send their second and third year architect students to Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa to learn more about environmentally-friendly design.
Mr. Wong continued: “I was recently invited to speak at the ‘Rio + 20 Conference’ in Brazil under the United Nations Global Compact with my topic being ‘Sustainable Tourism and Innovation in a Tropical Resort’. Frangipani Langkawi was the main case study in this talk as we have developed over 200 ways to protect the environment and to save valuable resources such as water and energy through recycling and rethinking the way we operate. I also took the opportunity to launch an e-book on this topic.”
Both the Malaysian Ministers of Tourism and Environment have visited Frangipani Langkawi and have seen all these initiatives. Mr. Wong hopes to launch the book in Malaysia at Langkawi Live 2012 and the money raised will be used for 'The Rivers’ Project'.
One of the main initiatives of the resort’s green activities is to use a biological waste water system to treat polluted water up to the standard of class one drinking water without using any energy. While this is well tested and old system, Mr. Wong and resort specialists have improved it and the National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM) support the initiatives developed at Frangipani Langkawi.
One of the challenges now for Langkawi is to get all villages and hotels to use this system and not to discharge their wastes into the rivers. Pollution can be reduced, the beaches protected and the recycled water can be used for more beneficial activities such as washing cars, flushing toilets and irrigating gardens for example. A more efficient waste collection system needs to be implemented so that wastes are not discharged into the rivers. This means collecting solid wastes and installing grease traps to ensure wastes such as all oils do not flow into and pollute the rivers. Saving water not only saves a valuable resource but it also saves money.
Through word of mouth, Mr. Wong is now showing the way for countries such as Nepal and Myanmar to treat their waste water using this biological system. Both these countries require cost effective and low impact systems to solve their growing environmental problems.
The challenge is to have the authorities and industries adopt this system as it is a responsible way of treating the waste water on the island and in not seeing overflow from their systems that will pollute the rivers and ultimately the sea. Developing strategies and a plan that involves the authorities, the community, resorts, restaurants and industry is essential to ensure that the rivers and surrounding waters of Langkawi remain clean.
Many Western countries with tropical climates are using this system as it is 40-50% cheaper to operate than normal systems. Disney World in Florida with 15 million visitors annually uses a hybrid system of both mechanical and biological filtration. It is called a Constructed Wetland or a Living Machine. Experts like Mr. Wong suggest this system could be used throughout Malaysia thus saving the environment and water for the country while being cost effective.
The organisers of Langkawi Live 2012 hope that the tropical setting and the great music on the beach will remind visitors just how beautiful and precious the island's environment is and of the need to protect it.