Stories, news, update from KePKAS

Sabah tourism students get raw deal

The government needs to set in place a better education and training system that is capable of satisfying the specific needs of the State’s booming tourism sector. Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA), in highlighting this yesterday, said most institutions offering training in tourism in Sabah do not properly screen their students to ensure that they have the qualities needed for the industry.

As a result, most of the students do not even make it into the industry after completing their studies, according to the association’s honorary welfare officer, Marry Ann C Degullacion.

Except for a very small percentage, she said some of the lucky ones who managed to land a job in the field they studied were likely to quit or be fired not long after they started because they lacked the required skills and passion.

“The fact is that education today, like any other industry, is driven by profit. Nothing wrong with that as long as it is not too focused solely on money making.

“It is sad to say but for some of these institutions the students only go as far as their education loan. Once they settled their fees, that is the end for them,” she said.

She was presenting the outcome of a group discussion during the Luncheon Talk between government officers and representatives from major industries here.

Senior officers from leading organizations under the plantation, tourism, oil and gas, agro processing and automotive sectors attended the half-day discussion facilitated by the Department of Skills Development.

A representative from each industry presented the outcome of their respective group discussions, highlighting pressing issues facing their businesses, in particular those concerning the training of skilled workers.

Marry Ann suggested that a special body be set up to monitor job placements of students from tertiary education institutions, to keep watch on both the quality and marketability of the students they produced.

This monitoring body, she stressed, must have a high standard for quality as it would determine the quality of the workers to be sent into the industry.

On another note, she said the authorities also needed to tighten the enforcement of laws governing the tourism industry, especially the tour guide sector.

“Tour guiding has become a cut-throat industry partly due to loose monitoring and enforcement by the authorities.

“There are for instance tour guides who don’t bother about renewing their licenses and make even more money operating illegally as unlicensed guides. On the other hand, there are tour guides who become taxi drivers because they would earn more driving cabs,” she said.

Earlier, she told the dialogue that there was still a need for more qualified tour guides, especially those who are proficient in English and other major foreign languages.

“English speaking guides are still very much lacking to support the industry in Sabah. We are also in need of guides who speak Russian, German and even Indonesian, to name a few,” she said.

In this regard, she suggested that more emphasis should be given on training new tour guides, apart from re-training existing ones and those who had left but wanted to rejoin the profession.

As Sabah is popular for its diving spots, she also suggested dive masters to be trained as qualified tour guides so that they can at least give a more accurate information about the State’s other attractions when visitors ask them.

She also proposed that Sabah should recruit more skilled lifeguards, pointing out that the many resorts and tourism spots in the State do not have sufficient or barely have any of this vital safety personnel at all.

Source: Borneo Post (by Murib Morpi)


Enlighten yourself on sun bears at BSBCC

Animal lovers can learn more about the elusive and endangered Malayan sun bear (pic) when the visitor’s platform at the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah is ready. BSBCC chief executive officer and wildlife researcher Wong Siew Te said construction of the platform has just begun and it was expected to open in June, next year.

He said little was known about the sun bear, which is the smallest bear species in the world and one of the rarest.

“The sun bear’s name comes from its distinctive golden-coloured chest patch, which resembles the sun,” he said during his talk on the bear at the Malaysian Nature Society headquarters yesterday.

He lamented that few Malaysians knew the importance of conserving this “wonderful, playful animal”, which faces extinction through illegal poaching and habitat destruction.

BSBCC is focused on rehabilitation, conservation, education, research and welfare of sun bears, he said.

Source: The Star (By ISABELLE LAI )


Climbathon: Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon – The Adventure Series To Debut In 2012

A new and exciting event called the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon – The Adventure Series will debut next year to spur Sabah’s tourism industry. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the internationally known Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon which produced many strong climbers from Malaysia and across the globe ends this year.

He said this is done to provide a wider range of tourism products in the state through recreational activities and not just sports.

“This event will be replaced by a new and more challenging series called the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon – The Adventure Series, which is 23 kilometres compared to the 21 kilometres previously.

“We will begin the event next year when the tracks are fully completed and participants no longer need to race to the peak of Mount Kinabalu,” he told reporters after attending a presentation ceremony, here Friday.

Celcom presented a RM30,000 sponsorship for the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon taking place on Oct 22 and 23.

Masidi said the new route has long been used by local residents but needed to be improved for the safety and comfort of participants.

“The new route will cross through several villages in Kundasang. It starts at Dewan Taman Kinabalu and then into Timpohon, Masilou and other villages around Mount Kinabalu.

“Participants will also be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery of villages there,” he said.

The ministry also plans to make the event an annual affair.

Source: Bernama

No tolerance for errant tourism players – Masidi

Revoking licences of eight tour agencies in the State is proof that the authority does not tolerate with any nonsense.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said it was important for the other tour agencies and companies involved in the tourism industry to take it as a warning.

“Tourism is a very competitive industry. If we want to sustain and grow, especially in Sabah, we should deliver the services that we promised to the clients.

“I do not understand why this kind of thing is happening in our industry. It is not typical of Sabahans to do that. We are the best Malaysians,” he added.

Masidi stressed it was important to look at the industry in the long run and marketing must be done in an honest manner.

He was responding to the announcement on Wednesday that Tourism Malaysia had revoked the licences of eight tour agencies in Sabah for failing to comply with the requirements under the Tourism Act 1992.

The Tourism Ministry’s office said they issued closure notices to the operators on September 8, and advised tourists and travellers not to buy any tour packages offered by these companies.

One of them, Summer Tours and Vacation Sdn Bhd, was found to have committed an offence under Section 8(1)(d) of the TIA 1992 Act by operating its business in a manner that could jeopardise public interest, tourism industry or the economy of the country, according to the statement.

The remaining seven agencies had their licences cancelled under Section 11(1) and 12(1) of the same Act after they failed to apply for renewal.

The agencies are Transborneo Traveller Sdn Bhd, Touchdown Holidays Sdn Bhd, Survival Outdoor Quest Sdn Bhd, Kinabalu Rent A Car and Tours Sdn Bhd, Discovery Borneo Adventure Sdn Bhd, Borneo Series Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd and Crocker Range Rent A Car Sdn Bhd.

The ministry also reminded those planning to travel to always check the status of the tourism operators before using their services.

Source: Borneo Post


Sabah Experiences Double-Digit Growth In Tourist Arrivals

Sabah, has for the first time, experienced a double-digit growth in tourist arrivals this year, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun. He said the number of tourist arrivals increased to 12 per cent as of July, contributed by countries such as China, Taiwan, Korea and Australia.

He said Sabah usually experienced a six percent increase at the highest.

“The most significant arrivals were from China with a majority of high end tourists.

“There was even one month when their arrival shot up to 42 per cent,” he told reporters after representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the launch of the Accor Hotels”” Sabah website here today.

Masidi also expects visitors from China, with about 76,200 as of July, to possibly overtake those from Korea which is currently at around 80,000.

“I recently met with the new chairman and managing director of Malaysia Airlines and suggested that the airline start direct flights between Kota Kinabalu, Beijing and Shanghai.

“We need to give MAS some time to adjust to their new management. But the feedback that I got was that it is only the issue of availability of aircraft,” he said.

He said at present, there was only the Kota Kinabalu-Hong Kong route being served.

“We expect a big influx of visitors from China if Kota Kinabalu is connected to more cities in China, with the country fast becoming a world economy, and more millionaires being created there than in any part of the world,” Masidi added.

Source: Bernama