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TANAH RATA, Aug 16, 2015:

Licensed tour guides are feeling the pinch from dwindling business due to a rise in illegal operators.

Licensed tour guide G. Raju said the illegal operators were stealing their jobs and their livelihoods.

The tour guide profession is regulated by the Tourism and Culture Ministry, which issues tourist guide licences to qualified applicants.

“But currently there are many locals operating ‘free lance’ with the help of hotel workers who would advertise their services in return for commissions.

“These illegal tour operators would undercut the market price for tour packages as they have minimal overhead costs,” he told The Rakyat Post.

Raju warned the situation would ruin the Cameron Highland’s tourism industry and more of them would steal businesses from licensed guides if the authorities did not tackle the problem seriously and urgently.

Wan Saleh Ismail, who runs a licensed tour guide business here, is trying to counter the illegal operators by emphasising on providing good, reliable service using trained, enthusiastic tour guides with good language skills and in-depth knowledge.

Nevertheless, he urged the concerned government agencies to do something about the illegal tour operators who were enjoying unfair competition, avoiding taxes and not applying for tour guide licences.

“We have to consider that they are a peril to the local tourism industry because they never took the exam to become a tour guide that would ensure a high degree of professionalism and ethical conduct in the tourism industry.

“If tourists are not accorded with standards and obligations of service that meet and satisfy their expectations, they may find themselves unable to file their complaints,” he said.

According to ministry regulations, tour guide aspirants must contact a tourism training institution registered with the ministry.

They must attend and pass the 4-6 months Basic Tourist Guide Course and sit for the written and practical examinations conducted by ministry.

Candidates who have passed the Basic Tourist Guide Course will receive a letter and certificate from the ministry and a Malaysian Skill Certificate from the Department of Skills Development through their tourism training institutions.

These candidates are then required to sit for the We Are The Host (WATH) Course conducted by the tourism training institutions or the Tourist Guide Association of Malaysia.

Successful candidates must submit the documents mentioned to the Licensing Division of the ministry to get the provisional Tourist Guide Licence.

Tourist guides must sit for the Tourist Guide Confirmation Course within the 2-year probation period and acquire three Continuous Tourism Related Education (CTRE) certificates in order to obtain a Permanent Tourist Guide Licence.

To renew the Tourist Guide Licence, six CTRE certificates must be acquired within two years.

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