Malaysian tourist guides take on security guard, e-hailing jobs amid Covid-19

Licensed tourist guide Raja Shaharil Nasir said many of his colleagues had to look for jobs in other sectors to make ends meet.

With no travellers to chaperone, many tourist guides have been forced to take up other jobs. These include working as security guards, e-hailing drivers and doing online marketing.

Licensed tourist guide Raja Shaharil Nasir said many of his colleagues have taken a hiatus from the tourism sector and joined other industries such as security and e-hailing to make ends meet.

“I think for many of us, we just grabbed whatever opportunity we can find.

"We are all just doing whatever we can to survive,” he said, adding that he, too, has found another job as an audio-visual technician.

According to Raja Shaharil who specialised in the English-speaking European tourist market, local tourism workers begin to feel the pinch beginning December last year.

“Groups of travellers were cancelling their holidays to Malaysia. By then, even cruise lines have cancelled their trips here,” he said.

Tourism activities in the country came to a standstill when Malaysia implemented the MCO on March 18 to curb Covid-19.

"During the MCO, my fellow guides and I were just staying at home as there was no tourists at all. There is no tourists coming in, so there were no job then,” he said.

Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong said the border closure had affected tourist guides’ rice bowls.

This is because their services are usually taken up by foreign visitors to the country, he said.

"With borders closed, there is not a single international visitor coming in for vacation. Domestic travellers are restricting themselves in a ‘new norm’ by just holidaying with their family members.

“Thus the services of the licensed tourist guide are not needed,” he said.

Leong added that not all tourist guides are able to easily switch to another profession.

According to him, the most affected age group are those between 30 and 55.

"The reason is because they are rooted in the profession for many years and within this age they remain as the breadwinner to their families. The sudden cut-off in income has affected them,” he said.

Read the full story on how tourism workers in Malaysia are coping amid Covid-19 in StarLifestyle this Saturday (Nov 21).
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