Masidi backs hefty fine for illegal tour guides


KOTA KINABALU: Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, is in favour of higher penalty of up to RM50,000 fine for illegal tour guides and tour vehicle operators.

Masidi said, anyone can afford the RM500 compound penalty and therefore, he has asked the Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC), the licensing authority, to impose heftier penalty of up to a maximum of RM50,000.

MOTAC Sabah director, Ag Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar, on Tuesday warned that illegal tour guides and ‘white vans’ operators, vehicles used as a tour bus without MOTAC’s permit, were at risk of being prosecuted in court and slapped with a maximum penalty of RM50,000, imprisonment or both.

On the other hand, Masidi has proposed that MOTAC and tourism industry players such as the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), Sabah Tourism Federation (STF) and Sabah Tourist Association (STA) form a task force and have a meeting once every month or two months to discuss and resolve issues related to the industry.

“The industry needs to work as a team. The enforcement, which is MOTAC and the industry players should communicate. There must be a dialogue or forum every month,” Masidi said, when officiating at a seminar on enforcement issues in the tourism industry organized by MOTAC here yesterday.

A total of 134 participants from the tourism industry took part in the seminar.

Meanwhile, Masidi urged MOTAC to provide a hotline for the public to lodge complaints.

“Make sure you are easily accessible for the public to make reports. Get rid of protocols,” he stressed.