KOTA KINABALU: Many tourist guides were left frustrated for failing to get both the federal and state governments one-off financial assistance announced in recent months.

Those who missed out because their guiding licences has expired and unable to renew due to financial constraints after losing their jobs since the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Sabah Native Registered Tourist Guides Association ex-president George Rejos explained in order to renew the licence, a tourist guide must sit three continuous tourism related education (CTRE) courses within a year.

The courses are conducted three times per year by the Malaysian Tourist Guides Association and during the movement control order, the courses were done via online, he said.

“However, since many of us are jobless due the COVID-19 pandemic, so we did not attend; furthermore, many of us doesn’t have a desktop at home,” George explained.

He suggested the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) office in Kota Kinabalu to set up the online facilities to enable the tourist guides to attend the courses.

Another option is to ask the government to provide the online facilities at the recognised tourism institutions in Kota Kinabalu to conduct the CTRE courses, he said, adding that the senior guides can become the facilitators to earn some income during this trying times.

Before the tourism industry was impacted badly by the COVID-19, he said the tourist guide would be penalised with a compound of RM150 for late renewal of the licence, but now it is free.

He also welcomed the announcement made by Senior Minister for Security Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob for allowing Malaysians throughout the country to travel inter-district and inter-state beginning Monday.

“We hope this will encourage the people to travel and go for sightseeing after the long lockdown at home.

“I think the government should perhaps subsidise maybe 50 per cent of the tour especially for hotel and transportation to stimulate the people to go travel,” George proposed.

He sees the easing of movement could provide a glimmer of hope for the tourist guides to earn some incomes from the assignments.

“The local tourists can engage the services of a tourist guide to handle the tour to make their holidays more meaningful as there are many interesting stories to be discovered behind every destination,” George said.  

He estimated there are about 2,000 registered tourists guide in Sabah including full time and freelance.

Both federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri and Sabah’s Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Jafry Afiffin has respectively announced RM600 and RM300 one-off assistance for tourist guides in recent months.-HS

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