Tourist Guides Operating In Sabah's Wildlife Areas Will Need Two Special Permits

SANDAKAN, Sept 2 (Bernama) -- All tourist guides operating in Sabah's wildlife areas will have to obtain the tourism operator permit and wildlife tourist guide permit from next January.

Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said for a start, the requirement of the two permits would be enforced in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

He said this move was taken following complaints from tourism operators about unlicensed and unqualified tourist guides operating in the area.

According to him, for the Kinabatangan wildlife area, the permits would only be issued to those operators registered with the Kinabatangam Wildlife Corridor Tourism Operators Association (KiTA) and Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA), besides having attended courses organised by the SWD.

"This is aimed at reducing negative eco-tourism activities, besides ensuring the safety of tourists by adhering to the existing policy of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

"Currently, tourist guides in Kinabatangan are only required to have a permit from STGA," added Ambu at the Eco-Tourism Operational Procedure Seminar at the sanctuary, here, today.

He said that in line with Section 76(1) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, tourism operators who violated this legal provision could be fined up to RM20,000 or jailed for up to two years, or both, if convicted.

Meanwhile, Ambu said more tourists would visit the Kinabatangan eco-tourism spots as these were part of the Ramsar area, besides due to the existence of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuay at Lot 8, Kinabatangan.

More than 100 tourism operators and tourist guides attended the one-day seminar. Among the speakers were KiTA president, Alexander Yee Kok Tsen and STGA president, Grace Leong.


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