KUCHING: State Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today revealed that there are talks with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (Motac) on allowing the issuance of tourist guide licenses by the state ministry.
He said there is need for the the state to issue its own licenses to counter the problem of insufficient tourist guides.
“Miri has only one or two registered tourist guide(s), ‘mana cukup’ (certainly not sufficient) and the unregistered guides come into play because there are not enough registered guides due to the expensive fees and difficulty of getting the license,” he said at a press conference after presenting his talk “Sarawak Tourism Blueprint” on the second day of the Sarawak Dialogue here.
He explained that presently the tourist guide licenses are issued by Motac as tourism is deemed as under the federal government list, but the state government does not fully recognised this.
“I feel that tourism has been taken away from the state. I am very firm when it comes to this (tourism matters relating to Sarawak). In the first place, tourism was not even a subject in the state or federal or concurrent list when we formed Malaysia in 1963,” he said.
He recalled that when the Federal Constitution was amended in 1994 , tourism was inserted in the Ninth Schedule and became a federal matter without consultation with Sarawak.
“The state will not give up in pursuing this matter and that’s why we have our own ministry and Sarawak Tourism Board to look at our tourism matters.
“We want the state ministry to issue the licenses where we conduct our own course so that the tourist guides are technically competent about Sarawak,” he emphasised.
Abdul Karim further explained that presently candidates applying for a tourist guide license are required to attend a six-month course under Motac in Kuala Lumpur or Kuching. The course is also self-funded.
“Overall the fees cost between RM6,000 to RM7,000. It is expensive and no one will come forward to sponsor you. But it is more important for a Sarawakian tour guide to be well-versed about Sarawak than things in Peninsular Malaysia because they are not going to work there but here,” he said.