Tuesday, July 14

Sarawak short of tourist guides — Permanent secretary

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Visitors watched the behaviour of orang utan at Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation centre. File Photo

MIRI: Sarawak has 149 licensed tour guides but only 70 per cent of them are actively involved in tourism promotion works in the state.

However, the number is not enough for peak seasons, said Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee.

According to him, 138 are based in Kuching, seven in Sibu, two in Kapit and one each in Sarikei and Miri.

“With the increasing number of tourists coming into Sarawak as a preferred destination, there is a need to further address the shortage of tourist guides in Sarawak especially during peak seasons in July until September.

“The current tour guides are aging and this does not bode well for Sarawak especially when we are actively promoting Visit Sarawak Campaign and Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2020,” he said at the certificate presentation ceremony for Regional Specific Tourist Guide (RSTG) training at Meritz Hotel here yesterday.

Hii pointed out that tourist guides play a very important role from arrival till the departure of visitors.

“Tourist guides help our visitors to understand the history and culture of the region and the way of life of its people. They have a duty to inform about points of interest of a destination.”

He said it was shocking for him to know that Miri being a resort city has only one licensed tour guide. Therefore, he stressed on the urgent need to conduct more tourist guide courses.

Last year, he said, his ministry engaged with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, Sarawak Tourist Guides Association, Matta Miri and SATT College to work out a course for 22 participants from Aug 12 to Dec 13. He said the aim was to increase the number of licensed tourist guides in Miri, Bintulu, Lawas and Limbang.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) has 158 licensed park guides.

“The ministry has worked very closely with SFC and UiTM (Universiti Teknologi Mara). We have successfully trained and licensed 42 Mandarin speaking park guides in 2018 and we will continue to train and license more park guides in view of the increased demand for guides in more than 20 national parks open to visitors in Sarawak.”

He said the ministry will continue to focus on capacity building for local industry players and local communities to enhance their knowledge and skills in the tourism industry.

The courses organised by the ministry include Tourism Awareness, Service Delivery Training and Localised Nature Guide.