“Stop the return of illegal tour operators”

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The Malaysia Tour Guides Association (MTGA) hopes the government will take action to prevent the return of illegal tour operators who plagued the tourism industry even before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its president and Johor branch president, Jimmy Leong, said around 4,000 people were involved in providing uninsured tourist services to Singaporeans planning to travel to Johor and as far as Kuala Lumpur.

“We have notified the federal and state governments of this matter as they now plan to fully reopen the borders next month.

“We hope law enforcement can root out illegal activity,” he said when contacted.

Leong said legal tour operators cannot compete with illegal tour operators because they have to pay for a license and insurance to operate.

“In order to reduce their costs, many legal travel agencies have had to do without the services of tourist guides. It kills the industry,” he said.

Leong was responding to statements by the National Recovery Council on the plan to fully reopen international borders in March.

On another topic, Leong said the government of Johor has continued to keep its tourism sector afloat by constantly engaging with tourism partners on their urgent needs.Leong says illegal tour operators are “killing the industry”.

“When the pandemic started and the borders closed, the state provided financial assistance to tourism players.

“Tourism Johor has prepared for the possible opening of borders by regularly consulting with stakeholders on how best to capitalize on the current scenario,” he added.

Leong said to receive the benefits, tourism stakeholders must be Malaysians based in Johor and actively promoting the state as a destination.

They must also have completed the refresher course organized by Johor Tourism Interchange and be members only of tourism organizations based in Johor.

“Approval must be made by the respective tourism associations to which they belong before such assistance can be granted,” Leong added.

Meanwhile, Director of Tourism Johor, Suhairi Hashim, said the state government has allocated RM1.6 million to be distributed to various industry players ranging from hotels, resorts, chalets and homestays to tour operators.

“This aid has been endorsed by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Hasni Mohammad. The one-time contribution will be distributed by the second quarter of this year,” he said.

A total of RM2,000 each will be granted to 207 budget hotel operators, RM1,000 to 233 homestay operators, RM1,000 to 621 tour guides and RM2,000 to 187 registered tourism agencies in Johor.

Registration is open until March 8 through the Johor Tourism Interchange mobile app.

Alternatively, those interested can visit Tourism Johor’s website or Facebook page.

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