Sabah tourism ministry to hear tour guides’ grouses

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KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA) will submit a report on the latest tour guides’ needs to the state’s Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry following a protest by some 40 of them at the Kota Kinabalu Airport on Sunday.

STGA secretary David Tseu told FMT that the association will have a dialogue with its members in the next two weeks to hear their grouses and requests and will submit the report to State Tourism, Culture and Environment Deputy Minister Pang Yuk Ming.

The tour guides staged a protest against allegedly unlicensed and foreign guides at the airport, which resulted in dozens of arriving Chinese tourists stranded for two hours.

This irked both the Sabah office of the federal tourism and culture ministry and State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun, who called the tour guides shortsighted.

Director of the Sabah office of the federal ministry Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar gave the tour guides a week from Monday to come to his office to give their statements.

Ahmad Zaki said there were no illegal foreign guides in the state and that the protesting tour guides mistook foreign tour leaders as such.

“Within the next two weeks, the STGA will meet and have a dialogue with its members to hear their grouses and needs.

“I hear the tour guides have a lot of updates to make. So we will compile these and pass them to the deputy minister Datuk Pang,” Tseu said.

Only tour leaders are allowed to collect commissions from shopping tours while tour guides are not allowed to do so under the Tourism Industry Act 1992.

Ahmad Zaki said some tour guides seek such commissions illegally.

On whether the tour guides will ask to be legally allowed to take commissions, Tseu said to do so will involve a long process.

“I’m not sure whether the tour guides will ask for this, but it will take a long process.

“The relevant Act of Parliament will have to be amended and I’m sure this will be outside the scope of the committee that the federal ministry will form to review the tour guides system. This is up to the government to do so.

“And we’ll see during the dialogue whether the tourist guides will request for this to be done,” Ahmad Zaki said.