Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scholarships to boost tourism - Star

July 22, 2009

THE Tourism Ministry has set up a special scholarship programme to sponsor 30 people from Perak to be trained as tourist guides to overcome the shortage of guides in the state.

Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said there were now only 23 registered guides in the state which had 88 tour operators.

“If each tour operator needs one guide a day, we need at least 100 guides. I hope people from Perak will come forward to take up this scholarship offer.

“If there are no takers, we’ll give out the scholarships to applicants from other states,” she said, adding that the four-month course costing RM5,000 each or RM9,000 with an extra foreign language will commence on Aug 1.

Noting that there was a misconception about the profession among locals, Dr Ng said tourist guides were not only highly respected in the industry but were also highly paid by as much as RM200 per hour.

“I know of several who earn up to RM800 a day,” she told reporters in Kampar on Saturday after chairing a meeting with officials from the ministry, state tourism board, Perak Tourism Action Council and National Economic Planning Unit.

Those interested in taking up the scholarships can call the ministry’s tourism service division head Rashidi Hasbullah at 03-26963928.

Dr Ng said Perak could be developed into an interesting tourism state but needed creativity, ideas and passion from its tour operators.

“Perak is a state rich in heritage, culture, history and nature. It is famous for its many archaeological sites, royalty and food. Tour operators must know how to package them into interesting and exciting new tour packages.

“People must not see Perak as a tin mine state only,” she said, adding that the ministry would meet with local tour operators to discuss with them and guide them in developing new tour packages.

Dr Ng said the ministry was concerned that the number of foreign tourist arrivals in the state had dropped by 30% from 160,427 in the first three months of last year to 112,201 in the same period this year.

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