Monday, September 24, 2012

Federal Tourism Ministry’s decision detrimental to Sabah tourism industry

KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Ministry’s decision to ‘temporarily open’ the tourist guiding labor market to Koreans is detrimental not only to the wellbeing of Malaysian tourist guides in Sabah but also to the tourism industry as a whole.

This is the view of Daniel Doughty, the chairman for Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA) and James M. Alin, Tourism Economist of School of Business and Economics.

Firstly, they said that Malaysian tourist guides are being sidelined and the local tourist guides are disappointed with the federal government for giving away ‘good jobs’ to the non-Malaysians.

“We are very happy with the exponential increase in Korea tourist arrival because it will make the tourism industry grow bigger. The benefits of growth in the tourism industry should trickle down to us ‘the forgotten not less important players’ of the industry,” Daniel and James said in a statement yesterday.

Higher demand, according to them, should result in higher pay to those existing local guides if they already invested their efforts and money to become well versed in Korean language (and things Korean). Deliberately liberalizing tourist guides market will eliminate this incentive.

“The argument that Korean (or Russian, following the Federal Minister’s examples) will not visit Sabah because there is shortage of Korean speaker guides is lame. The surge in Korean arrival to Sabah (2010 to 2012) is most likely inflated by the number of Koreans who work for the Sabah Oil and Gas Terminal projects in Kimanis,” they said.

“According to Malaysia Tourists Profile report, professionals, technicians, administrative and managerial staff made up 69% of occupation groups among Korean visitors plus 75% are male.