Friday, July 29, 2011

Calls For Review Of New Zoning Policy For Tourist Guides

There should not be such a policy in the first place. However Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has called for a review of the federal Tourism Ministry's new zoning policy, saying it affects the livelihood of blue badge or seasoned tourist guides in Sabah.

He said the ministry had also expressed its support to the Sabah Tourist Guides Association's (STGA) move in bringing up the matter for consideration of the relevant authority at the federal level. Masidi further requested the Tourism Ministry for a thorough study on the practicality of the policy, taking into consideration the unique situation of Sabah as one of the world class eco-tourism destinations.

"If tourist guides with blue badges can only guide or are limited to picking up tourists to and from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and hotels (which is less than five kilometres away) do they survive? Sabah is basically promoting eco-tourism, and so realistically, a tourist guide could conduct tours all over the state; that's why I am asking them to visit Sabah or the ground and consider their grouses," he told reporters after attending Yayasan Sabah College convocation ceremony at Tun Raffae Auditorium in Likas, here Thursday.

Masidi was asked to comment on yesterday's statement by STGA honorary disciplinary officer Lillian Agama that the new zoning policy, implemented by the Tourism Ministry, has direly impacted the livelihood of blue badge tourist guides in Sabah. Lillian was quoted as saying that they were no longer allowed to take the guests out of the city and this has led the 300-odd blue badge guides to consider surrendering their badges in protest of the new policy, which they felt was highly restrictive and impractical in Sabah.

In the past, licensed tourist guides after completing their course, were issued a yellow badge for a two-year probationary period. After this they were required to undergo a confirmation examination to qualify for the blue badge, which enabled them to conduct tours all over the state, even in Peninsular Malaysia. However, few years back, the Tourism Ministry introduced the green badge to legalise mountain guides who took tourists on nature tours.

Meanwhile, Masidi said if the appeal for a review of the policy failed, his ministry would study those provisions of the law or ordinance which are related to the guides, to help the affected Sabah tourist guides.

Even tour guides are treated like taxi cabs, you can only take passengers from point A to be B etc. Are we barking at the wrong tree.

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