The tourism industry may have come to a complete halt during the Covid-19 pandemic but most tour guides are eager to return to the sector once borders reopen.
About 90% of the tour guides in Kuala Lumpur have renewed their tour guiding licence, according to records.
Kuala Lumpur Tour Guides Association (KLTGA) chairman Edmond Chan said the remaining 10%, who did not renew their licence, had moved on to other jobs.
“A lot of tour guides are still keen to hold on to their membership, especially since the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) is going to upskill these frontliners, ” he said.
Chan believed it was high time the government reviewed and improved existing tourism products that catered to modern travellers and post-Covid travelling trends.
“The government should consider subsidising tourist guide packages to spur the industry and at the same time, create more opportunity for tour guides.
“During the recovery movement control order in June last year, when travelling was allowed, tour guides did not benefit from the period as most of the local tourists went sightseeing on their own.
“Perhaps they did not know where to get a guide or they did not want incur extra costs, ” he said.
Chan added that the association had engaged with Motac to expand the role of tour guides to hosting visitors, as they predicted that future travelling trends would lean towards free independent tourists or those travelling in small groups.
“The role expansion will allow licensed guides, who are trained to give commentaries about a landmark and its history, to ferry visitors around for sightseeing and portray the country accurately.
“Visitors will definitely enjoy the trip as they do not need to put in extra effort to navigate unfamiliar parts of the city or experience problems finding parking, ” he said.
Chan said Motac should consider lowering the cost and requirement for travel agencies.
“Right now, travel agencies must have an office to operate and with that, they need to pay the capital and overheads for office operations.
“It would be good if Motac could consider a home-based or small office home office (SoHo) style of agency, ” he said.
Chan expects the borders to reopen by this year as Malaysia would be receiving the Covid-19 vaccine soon.
“Most of us hope that the borders will reopen soon but we do understand that it is risky for now.
“As the vaccine will be available soon, it will help to restore confidence in the tourism sector, ” he added.
Malaysia is rolling out its national vaccination programme on Feb 26. — By JAROD LIM
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