KOTA KINABALU 27/09/2012: Sabah Democratic Action Party (DAP) has commended Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun for not implementing the Federal Tourism Ministry’s decision to allow Korean nationals to be given licenses to operate as tour guides in Sabah.
Hailing Masidi as the protector of the state’s tourism industry, Sabah DAP assistant secretary Junz Wong said he was extremely delighted that the new policy had not been enforced in order to allow for discussions and consultations with all the affected groups.
“This is what Sabahans want, to protect the state’s tourism industry and its nature and wildlife for local Sabahans,”
said Wong, who also praised Masidi for taking immediate action to investigate claims that Korean tour leaders had fed and abused wildlife in Sabah.
“It is an impressive display of a minister doing the right things for the people of Sabah with efficiency. Thank you for making the right decision for the good of people, the local guides and Sabah tourism,” added.
It was learned that Masidi during a closed door meeting with Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA) and other stakeholders to discuss the issue on Tuesday had said that he would discuss with the Tourism Ministry and in the meantime the decision to engage Korean guides would not be implemented as yet.
He however stressed that it was crucial for local players to work with the government to ensure there is enough Korean speaking guides to cater for the rapidly growing number of tourists from Korea.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen last week defended her decision and reiterated his call for Sabah to allow Korean tourist guides to come in specifically to cater for their nationals holidaying here.
She said the decision was made following a request from the Korean government to have more Korean speaking guides in Sabah as there were only eight registered Korean-conversant tour guides in the State.
The ministry reported that 48,000 Koreans visited Sabah in the first half of this year, way surpassing the 36,000 recorded for the whole year in 2011.