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Protest over illegal tourism escorts found to be misguided


KOTA KINABALU: Dozens of tour agents from Sabah staged a demonstration at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport after a misunderstanding that some illegal guides from China were operating here.

The local guides had gone to the airport just after midnight on Friday to confront the “illegal” guides, causing them to flee and desert their customers for about two hours.

The tourists, who had just landed, were also shocked and confused but the matter was resolved after a member of the Sabah Tourist Guide Association (STGA) came to an agreement with the tour operator, who had allegedly hired them to operate here.

Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Sabah director Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar said it sent a team to investigate after getting information about the incident.

“We found that the STGA together with the Bumiputera Tourist Guide Association (PBB) that had staged the demonstration had gotten their facts wrong,” he said.

He said the company which was accused of illegally hiring the guides was operating legally and had a licensed tourist guide and tour buses waiting at the airport to receive the tourists upon arrival.

Ahmad Zaki said the allegations of the STGA and PBB that the tour company was not complying with the law was unfounded.

Their actions have tarnished the image of Sabah’s tour industry and because of this, we lost quite a number of clients, he said.

He said the ministry had also received numerous complaints and cancellation from local and international tour companies, especially from China and South Korea.

“We have requested for the police to step in and if this group of guides are found to have staged an illegal assembly, we hope action can be taken,” Ahmad Zaki said.

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