Tourism ministry to review Sabah tour guide system


KOTA KINABALU: A committee will be formed to look at the role of tour guides in the state, and especially the issue of commissions, following a protest by some tour guides here.

The committee will be chaired by the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment while the federal ministry of tourism and culture (Motac) will act as its secretariat, Motac Sabah director Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar told FMT.

He said this in the wake of a protest by about 40 tour guides against allegedly unlicensed tour guides at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on Sunday. This caused dozens of arriving Chinese tourists to be stranded for two hours.

This has irked both Motac and Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun, who called the tour guides short-sighted.He said they should have used proper channels to voice their concerns.

Ahmad felt those who had participated in the protest did so personally, and did not represent any association. He said the protesters had been given a week to come to his office to give their statements.

Video footage obtained by FMT shows them protesting using placards and a PA system as the tourists arrive.

Ahmad said only tour leaders, who were representatives of the companies which brought tourists to Sabah, could take commissions from shopping tours in the state.

But some tour guides also seek such commissions, which is illegal under the Tourism Industry Act 1992.

“This is the reason for their protest against the so-called unlicensed and foreign tour guides, who were actually tour leaders from the country of origin of the tourists,” said Ahmad.

He said there were no unlicensed or foreign tour guides in Sabah. He said there was no shortage of Chinese-speaking tour guides, that supposedly caused tour operators to resort to using unlicensed foreigners.

“Korean tour groups bring their own English-to-Korean translators, so there’s no problem for our tour guides who don’t speak Korean.

“So, this committee will take a re-look to improve the tourist guide system in terms of commissions, so that tour guides are not money-driven and greedy.”