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SATTA: Take Stern Action Against Illegal Foreign Tour Guides
July 17th, 2017 | 08:50 AM | 2100 views
The Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (SATTA) yesterday urged the government to take stern action against illegal foreign tour guides who operate in Sabah.
Its president, Datuk Seri Winston Liaw, said the association is firm against the hiring of illegal tour guides from China.
“This issue cannot be allowed to fester, otherwise our Sabahans will be jobless in the future,” he said, when commenting on the issue of illegal tour guides from China in Sabah.
Liaw said there were an estimated 600 local tour guides who could converse in Mandarin and they should be the ones who do the commentary.
He said the government must look after the welfare of local guides, and stop and penalize local agents who worked with illegal tour guides from China.
“Stringent penalty should be imposed on these agents, including revoking their licence.”
He said illegal foreign tour guides should also be blacklisted and barred from entering Malaysia as they have violated the immigration law by working without permit.
Liaw said these illegal foreign tour guides would expose tourists to risks during their visit to Sabah, adding that Chinese tourists may be unaware of the risks when they signed up for tour with illegal guides.
“These illegal guides may engage illegal operators here who may not take safety precautions, such as not equipping ferries or boats with life jackets,” he stressed.
A group of Sabah tour guides staged a protest against the China tour guides at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport just after midnight on July 15. The protest led to three illegal tour guides fleeing the airport and leaving their big group of tourists stranded at the airport.
Parti Warisan Sabah vice president Junz Wong also urged the government to take action against illegal tour guides from China, saying that it is not possible for foreigners to obtain a tour guide license to operate in Sabah.
They can only obtain a temporary tour guide license and even then, can only do so if they are employed on a full-time basis by a licensed tour company operating in Malaysia, he said.
According to Junz, these illegal tour guides are threatening the livelihood of some 500-600 Sabahan tour guides, especially those Chinese-speaking catering to the China market.
In any industry, healthy competition is positive but the illegal tour guides are not acting within the confines of the law.
Both the federal and state governments, particularly the federal and state tourism ministries must protect local tourism from those operating outside the boundaries of the law and ensure a level playing field.
As such, he said the illegal tour guides from China must not be allowed to operate in Sabah.
“We have more than enough Sabah Chinese speaking tour guides to cater for tourists from China, with over 1,000 registered tour guides,” he added.
Recently, Warisan had a dialogue with a group of Sabah tour guides and their stand is firm against allowing illegal tour guides from operating in Sabah.
Junz said sadly, such an incident not only leaves a bitter taste in mouths of the tourists but also affects the reputation of the state as a tourist destination.
This has to be stopped before Sabah’s reputation is further tarnished by the illegal tour guides, especially since tourists from China represent the largest group of tourists who come to the state.
In the interests of the Sabah’s tourism industry, players and reputation, he urged the federal and state governments to protect Sabah and foreign tourists from the presence of illegal tour guides.
Warisan wants Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun to investigate this issue and track down the illegal tour guides as well as their local accomplices.
“We are certain that these illegal tour guides cannot be operating independently and are more likely to be on cahoots with irresponsible people within the tourism industry.
“The illegal tour guides must be deported and even blacklisted from entering the state again,” said the Likas assemblyman.
Any local company which is working in cahoots with the illegal tour guides or so-called “translators” must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and have their licenses revoked, he added.
Warisan also calls on all tourism industry players in Sabah to put the interest of Sabah and Sabahans first.
“No Sabahan should put profit ahead of the interests of the state. Sabah is ours to protect from any forms of exploitation.
“We expect nothing less than a strong response from the Sabah government on this matter.”
courtesy of THE BORNEO POST
by BORNEO POST
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