KOTA KINABALU: Operators in the tourism industry in Sabah have been urged to master foreign languages for them to go far.
Minster of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun said during the 2011/2012 Sabah Young Tourism Ambassador programme organised by the Sabah Tourist Association (STA) yesterday that they cannot sell the industry if they only knew the local dialects.
“I am proud of my language, but if I were to use the Dusun language to sell to foreign tourists, I won’t go far,” he cited, as an example.
He urged those in the industry to perfect their command of the English language and not be shy to learn and use it.
“Our problem is our shyness. But if we look at the foreigners, they are not shy to speak in our language when they are learning it. They don’t care if it is imperfect. So why are we scared to learn English?” he said.
He added that in China, 300 million people are learning the language.
Similarly important is the Mandarin language, he said.
“We are experiencing an increase by 38 percent of Chinese tourists. And we’re expecting more tourists to come by the end of this year,” he said.
The other language that should be given importance is Korean, he said.
In his speech, Masidi also urged those in the industry to be passionate about their career.
“When you take up this profession, you have to be passionate about it,” he said.
He also urged those in the industry to be knowledgeable about Sabah and its products.
“In this industry, we need people who are confident and knowledgeable. Be diligent in reading books and be inquisitive,” he said.
Meanwhile, the winners of the 2011/2012 Sabah Young Tourism Ambassador Award were Chloe Lee Mei Tchuin, Zimri James Maidi and Precious Sapphire Gidung.
They were presented with cash prizes of RM500 cash, a trophy and a six months’ stint as ambassadors for STA and they will be brought on familiarisation tours around Sabah and be paid an allowance.