The whole tourism industry in Malaysia has come to a standstill. Domestically and internationally, both tourists’ number with different factors behind their movement and arrival are definitely not contributing to the current critical sustainable mode that most tourism partners are going through. 

Personally and as a team in MTGC we are the leaders in the guiding profession. We got to remain optimistic and confident in mind as this is the vital forte in order to remain strong contributing to our government’s policies making that affect the upshot of the industry. We must continue to remain the communication bridge between our government and the guiding community. We need to listen to the many suggestions and opinions from them but filtering for consideration as proposals only those that are realistic and practical. 

This Pandemic has indeed hit the guiding profession directly cutting off completely the income of all in the job. With borders closed, there is not a single visitor coming in for vacation, and domestic travellers are restricting themselves in a ‘new norm’ for holidaying within their family members thus the services of the licensed tourist guide are not needed.

In this profession, the highly affected tourist guide group are those aged 30 to 55. The reason is because they are rooted in the profession for many years and within this age they remain as the breadwinner to their families. The sudden cut-off in income has affected them, not only denial in them paying for their basic expenses and daily needs but also on their commitment on education for their children, instalment on insurance premium, houses and cars if any.

The greatest challenge during this Pandemic is ‘uncertainty’. With cases increasing globally and protective measures adopted by each respective country there shall be no precise direction that any country can adopt to make it safe to travel, hence the borders are still closed. When this happen, there is no answer except the hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

What kind of assistance do we need ? Sustainability in its basic form. We need both the state and Federal governments to relook into the difficulties and hardship the tourist guides are currently going through. A ‘one-off’ payment of RM600.00 provided by our government cannot permit us to sustain our families for months. In good times when we are contributing to the economy of our country, we are termed ‘mini-Ambassador’, but in time of the current situation we are just been neglected.

The Malaysian Tourist Guides Council (MTGC) has made several proposals to the government but unfortunately the assistance rendered to us was nothing near to our basic request. We need sustainability in our basic form, the least monthly groceries voucher for our families for a period of time.

Apart from the positive news of the availability of a vaccine to curb the Pandemic soon, the hope for the travel and hospitality sector to move forward is first to promote confident for travellers to visit our shore. Then, we need our borders to be reopen. This is the only key to revitalising the tourism industry and our economy.  

Singapore and Malaysia have established the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangements (PCA), if these cross-border lanes are opened for other sectors it would be good. The ASEAN countries should take this initiative with other Asian destinations in the region in order to be successful. 

Its time that politic in Malaysia stays behind the bench but give priority in handling the ‘bread and butter’ issue for most Malaysian. The recent budget is certainly not a convincing one but disappointing to the industry. The tourism partners need the government to address their existing problems and needs and so are the mini ‘Ambassador’ that we are termed.

There should also issues that Malaysia needs to tackle such as public awareness in cleanliness, tourist friendly and helpful attitude, a crime free environment, tip-topped oriented services by frontline personnel as well as a competent tourism teams such as the tourist guides to deliver the ‘Truly Asia’ experience marketed and promised by our Malaysian tourism promotional arm, Tourism Malaysia. 

God bless All.
Jimmy Leong Wie Kong
Malaysian Tourist Guides Council
Dated: 11 November 2020