Tourism Players In Sandakan Lament Lack of Enforcement Against Illegal Tour Operators and Guides

June 12, 2015 kita-admin Uncategorized

The Executive Committee members of both Sandakan Tourism Association (STAN) and Kinabatangan – Corridor of Life Tourism Operator Association (KiTA) met recently to register their concerns with the lack of enforcement against illegal tour operators and guides in Sandakan.

These illegal tour operators and tour guides do not have the required permits or licenses from the relevant department to conduct tours for tourists. They will collect payment from tourists and conduct the trips using even unlicensed vehicle or so called “white vans”.

Johnny Lim, President of STAN is concerned that if the situation is not addressed, it will get worse. “We have received several feed backs from our members and they have asked that we take action now rather than wait for the situation to get out of hand”. He added that “as it is, white unlicensed vans can be seen parked at the junction of Sepilok at Mile 14, waiting to taut tourists as they get off the inter-state bus since there is a bus station there.”

Johnny also commented that while MOTAC currently imposed a nominal RM500 fine to those caught breaking the law, the amount is too nominal. “It does not deter the would-be wrong doer since one group booking of 4 tourists can easily cover the fine. MOTAC should punish by not only imposing fine, but the maximum fine and even consider putting them in jail. This way, would-be wrong doer will think twice before breaking the law”

Alexander Yee, president of KiTA has in fact paid courtesy visit to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) and had dialogued with its director, Encik Encik Ag. Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar. Due to the Ministry having to address similar situation in Kota Kinabalu, they are rather lacking in resources to conduct more active enforcement in Sandakan or other eastern townships.

Alexander said “we are willing to be the ears and eyes of the Ministry and we are willing to find ways to work together to address this issue before it gets out of hand.” He added that two members of KiTA have encountered tourists claiming they have booked their tours with these KiTA members, but in fact the tourists have booked via unlicensed tour guides who had used closely resembled names of tour packages offered by these KiTA members. The KiTA members eventually have to turn the unhappy tourists away since it was not their packages.

Both Association members urged MOTAC to find a solution soon and that they are willing to extend their helping hands if need be.

“We are after all on a same boat and rowing towards a same destination, which is to promote Sabah as a premier tourist destination. So it make sense that we work together towards the common good of the industry”, added Alexander of KiTA.


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