KOTA KINABALU: The Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is working closely with enforcement authorities as well as tour agents to tackle problems involving local companies being proxies to foreign tour companies, particularly from China and Korea.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Assaffal Alian said the ministry was aware of the problems and have taken steps to address them.
“We are aware that such actions are causing losses to Sabah,” he said during the question and answer session at the state assembly sitting on Thursday.
“We will also be discussing this in the Cabinet soon,” Assaffal added.
Sugut assemblyman Datuk James Ratib requested for the authorities to check on the activities of Chinese tourists, which he claims were sometimes seen as suspicious.
“Many Chinese tourists like to go to Kg Air (known as the city’s red district) till late night, what are they doing there?” he asked.
To this, Assaffal said they should work together to monitor the movements of the Chinese tourists in the city.
Meanwhile, he said license for tourism companies are under federal jurisdiction and according to records, there are a total of 820 registered tour companies in Sabah.
He said out of the 820, 20 are fully owned by foreign companies with Korea taking 15, China 2, and Japan, Britain as well as Australia having one each.
Assaffal explained that all foreign tours that come into the state requires a local tour leader from Sabah to bring them around in this state.
He said the situation was the same for local tour companies going for holidays overseas, where the country would also send their local guide to bring Malaysians around together with the Malaysian guide.
To another supplementary question raised during the sitting on whether the state government was planning to assist youths who are interested to become tour guides but have no means to take up courses, Assaffal said yes.
“In fact we are drawing up plans to see how we can assist more locals to become tour guides,” he said in reply to the Luyang assemblyman Ginger Phoog’s question.