Sunday, December 15

Ministry’s decision detrimental to tourism industry

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KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Ministry’s decision to ‘temporarily open’ the tourist guiding labor market to Koreans is detrimental not only to the wellbeing of Malaysian tourist guides in Sabah but also to the tourism industry as a whole.

This is the view of Daniel Doughty, the chairman for Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA) and James M. Alin, Tourism Economist of School of Business and Economics.

Firstly, they said that Malaysian tourist guides are being sidelined and the local tourist guides are disappointed with the federal government for giving away ‘good jobs’ to the non-Malaysians.

“We are very happy with the exponential increase in Korea tourist arrival because it will make the tourism industry grow bigger. The benefits of growth in the tourism industry should trickle down to us ‘the forgotten not less important players’ of the industry,” Daniel and James said in a statement yesterday.

Higher demand, according to them, should result in higher pay to those existing local guides if they already invested their efforts and money to become well versed in Korean language (and things Korean). Deliberately liberalizing tourist guides market will eliminate this incentive.

“The argument that Korean (or Russian, following the Federal Minister’s examples) will not visit Sabah because there is shortage of Korean speaker guides is lame. The surge in Korean arrival to Sabah (2010 to 2012) is most likely inflated by the number of Koreans who work for the Sabah Oil and Gas Terminal projects in Kimanis,” they said.

“According to Malaysia Tourists Profile report, professionals, technicians, administrative and managerial staff made up 69% of occupation groups among Korean visitors plus 75% are male.

“It was reported in local newspapers that most of ‘these tourists’ had a difficulty in obtaining work permit. If this is true, then the exponential increase in Korean arrival is just another seasonality effect.

“The recruitment of Korean citizen guides is a hasty decision from the ministry. According to the same report, 40% of them have come to Sabah more than twice. The main factors in choosing Malaysia was sightseeing (33%), like to know more about Malaysia (21%) and many tourism attractions (17%),” they said.

“We urge our fellow Malaysian guides to protest against the decision of the minister who forgotten that it was the Malaysians who hoisted her to the pedestal of power, not the Koreans,” added Daniel and James.