Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Dr. Zainal Adlin bin Tengku Mohammod said it is imperative for them to empower more knowledge on the abundance of tourism products including the eco-tourism packages to lure tourists to Sabah.
"Sabah is very a rich state with biodiversity of natural rainforest and abundance of endemic species of birds, flora and fauna as well as wildlife.
"Licensed guides not only need to know the history of Sabah but also have knowledge about these natural and eco-tourism products to attract domestic and foreign visitors," he said.
Tengku Zainal said this in his speech when launching the Sabah Native Registered Tourist Guides Association (SNRTGA) here, recently.
The association is also affiliated with Malaysian Tourist Guides Council (MTGC) and over 100 local tourist guides attended the event, including local travel and tour agencies and other officials.
"Our guides must also learn to speak other foreign languages like Mandarin and Korean where there is an ever increasing of tourists from China, Hong Kong and Korea coming to Sabah.
"Following this, STB is willing to help guides by organising talks every two months to enhance their knowledge in the profession," Tengku Zainal said.
Meanwhile SNRTGA President Dabalun Balau said the association is open to all tourist guides in Sabah regardless of race, religious beliefs, lifestyle and culture.
He said they are only concerned of catering the needs of the welfare and wellbeing of all the tourist guides in Sabah.
"We are inviting all local tourist guides in the State to register with the association so that we could help to address and attend their needs, problems and interests related to the tourist guiding field.
"Through the association, there are many programmes that we could implement to improve the knowledge, skill and work quality of the members," Dabalun said.
He said the association will also be conducting Continuous Tourism Related Activities (CTRE), which is a requirement for all tourist guides to take up in order to renew their licences.
Dabalun also reminded the tourist guides to keep an eye on their dressing and manners when working and attending their tourists.
He said it is imperative for the tourist guides to practice professionalism at all times so that the profession will be respected and the State's image will not be affected.
MTGC President Jimmy Leong said the opening of the new association for the local tourist guides in Sabah is the beginning of a new friendship in the tourist guiding community.
While congratulating the association, he is confident that the association will be the shining ray of the Sabah horizon and making way for a brighter hope for all tourist guides in Sabah.