Kota Kinabalu: A proper independent study into the state of the Sabah tourism industry seems necessary, judging by 45 specific issues and constraints and 31 suggestions raised at a fairly candid dialogue last Friday.
Tribute should go to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Environment under Datuk Masidi Manjun who believes in being open so that dissatisfactions and anomalies can be aired publicly.
In the absence of Masidi, credit must go to a perceptive and firm dialogue chairperson and Permanent Secretary to the Ministry, Datuk Susannah Liau, who handled the contentious moments very well.
If we have read it correctly and don't claim that we are absolutely right in our opinion, the voices of Matta Sabah chapter members sounded somewhat like insecure mortals seeking assurances from the gods.
Since the "gods" analogy depicts authority, the onus is on the authority to find out exactly what's happening, preferably with a good study and after that, make informed decisions.
For example, on the issue of unlicensed tour operator, Matta claimed there are "many unlicensed operators and even backpackers lodges competing directly with genuine licensed operators." It further claimed that "most compounds are slapped on the licensed operators but not the unlicensed ones."
In addition, they alleged that there is a "sizeable number of overseas tour operators' staff found conducting tour for their company, thus bypassing local operators."
They also claimed that these overseas agents have taken advantage of Sabah's current lack of enforcement to conduct tour on the pretext of inadequate foreign language guides.
Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sabah tourism needs independent study