Private car owners moonlight as guides

JOHOR BARU: Private car owners who pick up passengers for tours are hurting the local tourism industry.

Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong said it is important for the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) to step up enforcement on such practices as it is hurting the livelihood of more than 8,000 registered guides nationwide.

“There are Russians, Spanish, American and British nationals posing as guides in Penang. I personally saw this when I was there recently,” he said.

“They usually use social media to advertise their services to their fellow countrymen.

“This problem is rampant in Penang. In Johor, our problem is more about locals with multi-purpose vehicles driving across the Causeway to pick up Singaporeans or expatriates for tours.

“Some of them take small groups of people around Johor, Melaka, Kuala Lumpur and even up to Genting Highlands.

“There are more than one hundred people doing this, and they are also advertising their services via social media,” he said, adding that each car was rented out for between S$300 (RM1,020) and S$500 (RM1,700) per day.

Leong, who is also Johor Tourist Guides Association chairman, said that once an MPV was booked, the driver would go and pick up the tourists at designated areas in Singapore before taking them to Malaysia.

“This illegal practice deprives local tour guides of tour assignments, and even local tour operators from using their licensed tour vehicles.

“This is hurting the tourism industry, and I suggest that the Road Transport Department carry out more operations against drivers who ferry people around without permits, especially on weekends and holidays,” he said.

According to Leong, Johor alone has more than 800 licensed guides.

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