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Illegal Chinese guides slicing into tourism cake

17th July, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Unlicensed tour guides from China are a nuisance and a concern to bona fide local guides, and state authorities have been urged to investigate and put a stop to it.

Although the rules do not allow foreigners to be granted guides licence, it has not stopped unscrupulous operators to take advantage of the burgeoning number of tourists visiting Sabah from China.

In a dialogue between Parti Warisan Sabah leaders and worried local guides here recently, participants heard how the illegal guides are threatening the livelihood of some 500-600 Sabahan tour guides, especially those Chinese-speaking ones catering to the China market.

“The federal and state tourism ministries must protect local tourism from those operating outside the boundaries of the law.

“The illegal tour guides from China must not be allowed to operate in Sabah,” said Likas Assemblyman Junz Wong who is also a vice president in Warisan.

“With over 1,000 registered tour guides, we have more than enough Chinese-speaking tour guides to cater for tourists from China.”

Disgruntled local guides staged a protest against China guides at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport at 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.

The incident not only left a bitter taste in the mouths of the tourists but also affected the reputation of the state as a tourist destination, Junz claimed.

“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 to the state.

“In the interests of the Sabah’s tourism industry, players and reputation, the federal and state government must protect Sabah and foreign tourists from the presence of illegal tour guides.”

Junz urged the Minister od Tourism, Culture and Environment to look into the situation and bar guides from China, unless they are hired by local, licensed tour operators.

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