KOTA KINABALU May 8, 2012: Datuk Masidi Manjun said the tour guiding job should be left to licensed tourist guides.
The Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister said this when asked to comment on Federal Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen’s call for taxi and hired car associations to offer attractive packages and to double up as tour guides.
“I have yet to get the details of the minister’s new initiative but suffice to say that the real tour should be left to licensed tourist guides who have invested money and time to obtain their licence,” he said.
Masidi added that the tour guiding industry in Sabah had just gone through a controversy on the issue of the green badge and blue badge issued by the federal Tourism Ministry and this new proposal would only stir up new controversy.
“The issue is not merely on the merits of the proposal but the need for the federal Tourism Ministry to be more consultative with the various stakeholders, especially the tour agents and tour companies.
“The interests of all stakeholders need to be considered and protected. A simple sightseeing tour of Kuala Lumpur could probably be handled by taxi drivers and which I believe is already being done through private arrangements with their passengers,” he said.
Ng’s proposal during the recent launching of Taxi Tourism Service had angered tour guides and tour operators in Sabah, prompting the Sabah Tourist Guide Association (STGA) and Malaysia Association of Tours & Travel Agent to issue a joint statement registering their unhappiness on Sunday.
Matta Sabah chairman K.L Tan said, “Tourism should benefit all community , this include taxi drivers but can taxi associations under their current legislations offer tour packages?”
“Taxi association was set up to carry passengers and tourist guide association was set up to represent guides while MATTA was set up to organize tours. Are we setting the precedent to do away with the guideline and certification process?” he added.
STGA chairman Daniel Doughty reminded Ng that to be a qualified tour guide, there is minimum academic requirements in addition to the mandatory three to six months course to obtain either green badge or blue badge.
“Hence the need of only a day-course to be a tourist guide is disturbing to us all as everyone is concerned about the quality of service, operating standards and insurance issues among others.
“If Datuk Ng Yen Yen really believes it is a good idea, some members suggest that taxi licences be given to existing tourist guides. They run business like a travel agent and will further improve taxi services in Malaysia, then be prepared for the possible worst case scenario,” Doughty added.
Both STGA and MATTA Sabah believe that the Tourism Ministry has just opened up another window of opportunity for the illegal tour operators and illegal tourist guides.
“If every taxi driver can be a guide and act like a travel agent, why should travel agents have proper premises, paid-up capital , comply with Tourism Industry Act 1992 , incur overhead costs, and obtain bas persiaran vans or hire and drive cars with high premiums?
“Better to dispose of the vans and cars and purchase taxis to carry out inbound business. Allowing taxi drivers to act as travel agents or tour consultants could lead to many unwanted negative impacts on our destination marketing and national image overall,” Tan stressed.
by Nancy Lai