By BORNEOTODAY REPORTERS
KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah has expressed deep concern over the presence of tour guides from China and other countries operating illegal in the State.
Junz Wong, the party’s vice president also alleged that these illegal tour guides are threatening the livelihood of some 500-600 licensed Sabahan tour guides, especially those working the Chinese-speaking sector.
“It is not possible for foreigners to obtain a tour guide license in this country, so the authorities must go to the ground and check out these allegations,” he said in a statement Sunday.
“From what I understand, they can only obtain a temporary tour guide license and even then, they can only do so if they are employed on a full time basis by a licensed tour company operating in Malaysia.”
Junz said he and other Warisan leaders came to know of this situation after they had a dialogue with a group of concerned local Tour Guides who are furious that illegal tour guides have been operating in Sabah with impunity.
He said that in any industry, healthy competition is positive but the presence of illegal tour guides are not within the confines of the law and the authorities concerned must protect the locals first.
“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,” he pointed out.
He added that since there are more than enough local Chinese-speaking tour guides to cater for tourists from China, (estimated at 1,000 registered guides), the illegal tour guides from China must not be allowed to operate in Sabah.
Apparently the situation has become so dire that a group of Sabah tour guides staged a protest against the China tour guides at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) just after midnight on Sunday.
The protest led to three illegal tour guides fleeing the airport and leaving their group of tourists stranded at the airport.
“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,” added June.
“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.”
Junz called on Masidi Manjun, the State Tourism Minister to investigate the issue and track down the illegal tour guides as well as their local accomplices.
He said Warisan is certain that these illegal tour guides cannot be operating independently and are more likely to be on cahoots with irresponsible people within the Sabah tourism industry.
“The illegal tour guides must be deported and even blacklisted from entering the state again,” Junz added.
“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.
Warisan also calls on all tourism industry players in Sabah to put the interest of Sabah and Sabahans first,” the Likas Assemblyman stressed.