KUCHING: Sarawak needs more tourist guides to prepare for the return to the peak of the tourism industry post Covid-19 pandemic, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
He noted that as of this month the state only has 169 tourist guides, whereas Sabah has 2,000 despite Sarawak being bigger than Sabah.
“For the first phase of the Regional Specific Tourist Guide (RSTG) Course 2020 we plan to have 500 tourist guides. We have a gross shortage of tourist guides in Sarawak,” said Abdul Karim at the RSTG 2020 Kuching launching at his office yesterday.
Speaking on the pandemic, he said that is a blessing in disguise as it allows the ministry to hold such programmes during the low period, as opposed to when there are tourists coming in, which is inconvenient.
He added that tourist guiding is a good alternative career for graduates who are unable to find jobs, and according to him, this career will not fail once the tourism industry comes back in full swing, probably next year.
“With the kind of promotion our state is taking, everything seems moving to that line. We’re opening up museums, coming up with many events, we are reopening Niah Cave, looking into opening more trails among others. If tourists come and there’s nobody to guide them, there will be some problems. So we want to have as many as possible.”
He added that those who excelled in it will be those who are good in communications and public relations, and if they are very good, the tips will be equally good too, he joked.
Asked on e-pelancongan, he said that it is an e-learning portal for industry players and those who are interested in the industry. The platform named PANDei is a collaboration between the ministry and Pustaka Sarawak. It is free for all, and those who complete the whole course will get a certificate. It will be launched early November, he said.
Meanwhile, he said the state might look into reopening the border to countries which have done it successfully like Singapore and Hong Kong.
“We are not speculating on it. The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) will look into it from all angles, but will give priority to domestic tourists. Sabah, unfortunately, can’t open now, it is very bad.”
Abdul Karim, who is a member of SDMC, said Sarawak is the best managed state for Covid-19, and this can be seen by the low number of positive cases daily.
He added that as folks in Peninsular Malaysia love travelling during school holidays, they can consider Sarawak as the state has many products and has shown full compliance with the set SOPs, making the state a comfortable place to visit.
“This is one way we promote ourselves.”
At the event, he also introduced the 21 participants who had registered for the RSTG Course 2020 for Kuching intake which commenced on October 12. The course was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) and SATT College.
Present were Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, SATT College managing director Mohamad Nazri Abdillah, SATT College chief executive officer Fabian Henry and Sarawak Tourist Guides Association president Abang Azahari Abang Zaidan.