Friday, December 31, 2010

STAR : Foreign guides to be let in

Wednesday July 14, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign tour guides will soon be allowed to work in Malaysia on a case-by-case basis, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She said the foreign tour guides would be closely monitored by the ministry and would only be allowed into the country when there was a need.

“It is not an open licence but we will allow them to come on an ad hoc basis to ensure that we do not open a floodgate for them to work in Malaysia,” she told a press conference after a dialogue session with tourism industry players here yesterday.

She said currently, there was a shortage of Malaysian tour guides who could speak Japanese, Korean, Iranian and Russian, causing a drop in tourists from these countries.

“For example, there were 250,000 Koreans who visited Malaysia in 2005 but the number dropped to 78,000 last year.

“We have no choice but to bring in foreign tour guides because very few Malaysian tour guides can speak these languages, which is the main reason for the sharp reduction in tourists from these countries,” she said.

She said this was a wake-up call for local tour guides to buck up and learn more foreign languages to cater for tourists from these countries.

Last year, she said, the ministry spent RM3.6mil in capacity-building programmes such as basic tour guide and foreign language courses.

To date, 480 participants joined these programmes, of which 245 existing tour guides joined the foreign language course and 235 graduates from institutions of higher learning participated in both courses, she added.

On another matter, Dr Ng said travel agencies would be allowed to join any tour operator associations recognised by the ministry other than the Malaysian Association of Travel and Tours Agencies by October this year.

Dr Ng also said this was to allow travel agents to choose the association that best represented their unique needs and nature of business.

The other associations that travel agencies can join are the Malaysia Chinese Tourist Association, Malaysia Inbound Tourist Association, Malaysian Indian Travel and Tours Association and Bumiputra Travel and Tours Association of Malaysia.

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