Sunday, June 7

KL told to review guide zoning policy quick

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KOTA KINABALU: Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun, who described the zoning system for tourist guides in Sabah as ridiculous, has urged the Federal Tourism Ministry to review its suitability in the state.

Masidi said those responsible for introducing the system should come and look at the situation in Sabah.

He said since the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has ordered all government leaders to go to the ground, the federal ministry officials should study the real situation in Sabah and not just making decision in the comfort of their offices.

“Maybe their intention is good but they also should see the situation. We are in Sabah, only 10 minutes from the city we will see the jungle. This new policy is does not make any sense and it’s ridiculous,” he said.

“I am hoping the federal ministry would come here to analyse and study the real situation and we would be more than happy to assist,” he said.

Masidi said his ministry, together with  Sabah Tourism Board (STB), will find a way to assist tourist guides in Sabah by determining whether there is a provision in the Sabah tourism enactment to allow them to work the way they used to.

He said he will do that if the federal ministry responsible for implementing the zoning system cannot solve the problem soon.

“Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA) has explained to me about this matter and I sympathise with their situation, where tourist guides issued with the blue badge were previously free to guide anywhere, but are now limited to picking up tourists to and from the airports and hotels as well as conducting city tours,” he said.

“They have applied to me to look into the matter seriously and to me it is a very justified application, because the new zoning policy has affected their income as guides,” he told the media after officiating at the Kolej Yayasan Sabah convocation at Tun Mustapha Tower yesterday.

Due to the zoning policy, it is said that there have been instances of action taken against blue badge tourist guides for transferring their guests to Kinabalu Park.

According to Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA) honorary disciplinary officer Lillian Agama recently, tourist guides issued with the blue badge are no longer allowed to take the guests out of the city and this has caused the 300 odd blue badge guides to consider surrendering their badges in protest at the new policy which they deem to be highly restrictive and impractical in Sabah.