KOTA KINABALU: Local tour agents and guides held a protest at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport after learning that guides from China were operating here illegally.
They had gone to the airport after midnight on Friday to confront the China guides who fled for their safety leaving several tourists in their group, who had just landed, shocked and confused.
The matter was resolved after a member of the Sabah Tourist Guide Association (STGA) came to an agreement with the tour operator, who had allegedly hired the China guides to operate here.
Culture and Tourism Ministry Sabah director Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar in a statement here said a team was sent to the airport to investigate the matter.
“We found that the STGA together with the Bumiputera Tourist Guide Association (PBB) who had staged the demonstration had their facts wrong,” he said.
Ahmad Zaki said the tour company accused of illegally hiring China guides was operating here legally. It has a licenced tourist guide and tour buses to receive the tourists upon arrival.
Ahmad Zaki said the allegations that the company was not complying with the law was unfounded.
“Their actions have tarnished the image of Sabah’s tour industry and because of this, we have lost quite a number of clients,” he said.
He said the ministry also received numerous complaints and cancellations from local and international tour companies, especially from China and Korea.
“We have requested for the police to step in and act against this group of guides,” he said.
“We will not hesitate to revoke the licences of those involved if they are found to have gathered illegally,” he added.
Ahmad Zaki also apologised to the tourists on behalf of the local guides who held the protest.