KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah chapter of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has sought to distance itself from illegal practices in the tourism industry such as money changing and organising trips that feature exotic meals made from protected animals.
Sabah Matta chairman Lawrence Chin told FMT his administration had no knowledge of whether any of its members were involved in the illegal activities.
He said Matta would be discussing the issue but added that a date had not been set.
“We travel and tour companies must strictly follow the law,” he said. “The practices of changing money for foreign tourists and organising dining trips involving meals made from protected animals are very improper.
“We strongly oppose these practices. We don’t know if any Matta member is involved.”
A Sabah tour guide who spoke to FMT on condition of anonymity recently said he knew of tour operators and guides involved in such activities.
The Sabah Wildlife Department has hit out at such practices and confirmed that a person had been caught in possession of meat from two pangolins during a dining trip for about 10 tourists from China.
The department said the person would be charged in court soon.
Bank Negara Malaysia’s Money Services Business Control Department has said only licensed companies or firms acting as their agents could provide currency exchange services.
The Sabah tourism industry was also recently hit by unconfirmed reports that unlicensed tour guides and operators of illegal tour vehicles had entered the business.
The Sabah office of the federal tourism and culture ministry, however, has denied that there were unlicensed tour guides in the state.