Improve country’s image, says Tiong

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing has called for efforts to safeguard the country's image as tourism activities pick up and some issues have surfaced.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said that among the issues were counterfeit alcohol allegedly sold in Langkawi and a controversy involving a diving instructor accused of indecent behaviour against a tourist in Semporna.

"If these issues are not corrected or rectified in time, it may do more harm to the industry and our country’s image.

"Relevant laws and regulations are needed to carefully resolve feedback and complaints from travellers and prevent more unscrupulous industry players," he said in a statement on his Facebook page.

Tiong said the problem of counterfeit alcohol is not exclusive to tourist areas.

"Many people have complained about the proliferation of fake wine in the market.

"The issue must also be monitored by the Health Ministry with periodic spot checks.

"Samples must also be brought back to test the authenticity of the alcohol being sold," he said.

Tiong said that the ministry would review outdated provisions under the Tourism Act 1992, particularly regulatory issues related to diving instructor licences, divers' rights and diving activity guidelines, among others.

"These must be reviewed to better protect the rights and interests of tourists visiting Malaysia and to ensure tourism operators adhere to these laws.

"As far as I am aware, the tourist in the diving case had not reported the case immediately to the police, who could not then intervene appropriately in the incident.

"As a result, the case was not immediately investigated, leading to more complications in evidence collection," he said, adding that everyone should take immediate action to protect themselves through the right methods when facing similar situations.

Tiong said it was important for all to work together and shore up the reputation of the Malaysian tourism industry, boosting tourists' confidence.

"I solemnly appeal to the hotel industry, catering industry, tour guides and travel agencies for their patience and cooperation with us to improve their professional quality and standards together."

He also called on tourists to utilise the proper channels to report any wrongdoing committed against them to the police immediately.

"This way, the proper enforcement agencies can provide the greatest protection.

"At the same time, local governments and their enforcement units must learn lessons from the above incidents and strengthen their regulatory measures to protect the rights and interests of all."

Tiong said his ministry treated every complaint and feedback with importance, as the perception and experience of international visitors are paramount to the country and other related industries.

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