August 23, 2011 : Tourist guide services in Sabah will no longer be regulated by the zoning policy after October 1 this year as they will be issued a special badge, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.
Masidi, who was replying to Luyang assemblywoman Melanie Chia’s question in the State Assembly sitting yesterday, said this will resolve the current confusion over the zoning policy, which has caused dissatisfaction among the tourist guides in Sabah.
He said tourist guides issued with the Blue or Green badges before October 1 this year will have to undergo a special course to qualify for the special badge.
“Blue badge holders will need to go for a one-week course while Green badge holders will have to undergo a three-week course,” he said, adding that once they pass the course, they would be issued the special badge that allows them to guide only in Sabah.
For those who want to get the special licence after October 1, 2011, will be required to go for the special tourist guide course.
Masidi said the Tourism Ministry together with the cooperation of state agencies and departments including the Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA), Malaysia Tourist Guides Council and Federation of Tourism Training Institutes is now in the process of building a module for the course.
Chia had asked about the ministry’s stand on the tourist guide zoning issue and the steps being taken to resolve the problem.
Last month, tourist guides in Sabah were up in arms over the Tourism Ministry’s ‘restrictive’ zoning policy which only allowed the Blue badges guides to do tours in the city while all nature based tours are to be conducted by the Green badge or nature guides.
Naturally, the tourist guides were unhappy with the policy as most of the tours in Sabah are nature based.
Masidi said, “We are an eco-tourism destination and most of our tourism spots are less than 10 minutes away from the towns in the state, so it does not make sense if our Blue badge tourist guides are only allowed to conduct tours in the city and towns.
“My ministry’s stand is that there should only be one badge for tourist guides in Sabah and we have informed the Tourism Ministry of our stand which is why it had agreed to introduce the special badge for Sabah,” he said.
Meanwhile, in reply to Kundasang assemblyman Dr Joachim Gunsalam’s question on the status of SMK Kundasang which was approved since the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), Masidi said the Education Ministry is in the process of appointing IKRAM to carry out soil-testing on the site for the school project to find out the stability and suitability of the site.
Follow-up action will depend on the result of the test and the decision of IKRAM, he said, adding that the land identified for the school building project is located in Kampung Mesilou, Kundasang.