The children in Malaysia's top holiday islands — Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Tioman — will be given formal training on how to be top-notch tourist guides.
Described as a "new direction" for the tourism ministry, its minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the pilot programme will see the introduction of island tourism as co-curricular subjects in secondary schools on these islands.
"We want to transform the locals to be champions and guardians of the islands," Dr Ng said at a press conference during a tourism seminar held at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) this morning.
Dr Ng explained that locals make the best tourist guides, but they must be well-informed beforehand. "Some local guides only know how to direct you around the island, but are not knowledgeable on other detailed aspects.
"They need to know where the good diving spots are, the names of the trees and such," said Dr Ng. She related a bad experience she had with a poor tour guide during a visit to an island.
"The diving guide stepped on a coral. I scolded him, and immediately refused to continue with him as a guide for my dives. A good guide or instructor will not do that. Hence, we are proposing to introduce tourism as a co-curricular activity in schools. It is important to start educating school children from a young age," she said, adding that the subject will be introduced to children from the age of 13.
Dr Ng said she has already discussed the matter with Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the Education Minister, and it will be proposed in a cabinet meeting next week.
The minister expressed her optimism on the programme being given the green light, and said, "it will not be difficult."
Dr Ng said the programme, among others, will see the children trained to become good divers. Training, she said, will be provided by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified instructors.
She added: "They will also be taught foreign languages, such as Korean or French" which is equally important. "Not long ago I was at one of our islands and I saw a group of local youngsters loitering at a jetty. They were just hanging around doing nothing when they could have earned money by becoming tourist guides," said Dr Ng, adding that tourists pay a lot of money to good guides.
Dr Ng was present this morning to give her keynote address at the seminar, dubbed "Innovation and Creativity in Tourism: Transformation to High-Income Economy".
Source : MalayMail
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