KOTA KINABALU August 8, 2011: Tourist guides in Sabah can heave a sigh of relief now that the Tourism Ministry has agreed to review a new ruling that has put them under duress.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the ministry would look into the requests in terms of combining the badges of city and nature guides.
“This makes sense and I will speak to the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun and the Sabah Tourism Board to ensure the new directive in the state is appropriate,” she said.
There are three types of guides – tourist, city and nature guides. In the peninsula, more city guides are needed to bring guests on city-related excursions.
“Almost 80% of guides in the peninsula are city guides and the remainder in eco-tourism, but in Sabah it is the reverse. We understand the uniqueness of Sabah,” Ng said, adding that the ministry hoped to resolve the matter and have a new guideline in place by October.
However, there will be no change to the specialist guides such as those bringing guests to Mount Kinabalu, the nation’s highest mountain.
Members of the Sabah Tourist Guides Association recently voiced their frustration over the ruling that restricted the movements of guides in Sabah, thus, affecting their rice bowl.
During her visit to Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Ng expressed hope that the institution could develop the state’s vibrant tourism industry.
She urged UMS, to which she is the mentor minister, and the students to provide feedback on the types of programmes they wanted so that the university could take on a leadership role in Sabah’s tourism sector.
Sabah attracted about 2.5 million tourists last year.
The ministry, she said, aimed to push tourist arrivals from 26.4 million last year to 36 million by 2020 with an estimated tourism receipt of RM168bil.
She said the average tourist spending when holidaying in Malaysia was RM2,267, adding that the ministry wanted to see the figures go up to RM4,000 in 2020.