KOTA KINABALU: Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen has urged university students to take a leading role in the tourism industry by working as tourist guides or specialist guides.
Speaking during a visit to Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) here yesterday, Ng suggested that students could take short courses to enable them to work as tourist guides during school holidays or peak season.
Her visit yesterday was to explore possible collaboration between the university and her ministry, as well as to obtain feedback on the programmes that could be done to enable students to participate in tourism.
Ng pointed out that UMS students could take part in the tourism industry, particularly in new tourism products such as gardens and trails, art tourism and marine tourism.
She suggested students undertake practical training to be specialist guides for garden and trails, adding that the job could earn good income.
“A good tourist guide in Malaysia can earn up to RM10,000 a month.
“You must be a good story teller, must like people, like to make them happy.”
Ng said good tourist guides were needed in Sabah to identify and explain the different flora and fauna species to tourists.
“I hope we can give inspiration to UMS students, to ‘Think Tourism, Act Tourism’.”
Ng added that her ministry launched the park and garden trail in London in June, and had sold RM2.5 million worth of packages.
“In United Kingdom, a package is sold around 3000 pounds.”
On another note, the Tourism Ministry targets 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in receipts by 2020.
This translates to an increase of 1.5 times from 24.6 million tourist arrivals and three times of the RM56 billion in receipts of the tourism industry last year.
Ng said 2.5 million or 10 per cent of the tourists who visited Malaysia last year came to Sabah.
She pointed out that the government is aiming for longer stay and higher yield.
“An average tourist spends RM2,267 in Malaysia, we want to increase their spending to RM4,000 by 2020.”
Ng also stressed the importance of developing new tourism products, such as park and garden trails, as well as the Art Hunt Sabah launched last week.
Malaysia launched the first art tourism last year, which raked in RM14.4 million from the art pieces sold.
The minister further revealed that the most expensive art piece was sold for RM157,000 in the first Malaysia’s art auction, while the work of a Malaysian artist was sold for RM530,000 this year.
Meanwhile, UMS vice chancellor Brigadier General Professor Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Kamaruzaman Hj Ampon said the university would respond to Ng’s proposal, particularly training special tourist guides.
He added that the university had conducted several researches related to tourism.
“Marine tourism is a high-end tourism product, and it will be good for the university to undertake this.”