Sarawak to Host Inaugural ASEAN Tourist Guides Conference

2nd May, 2024

Dato Sri Abdul Karim (centre, seated) together with the members of Sarawak Tourist Guides Association and stakeholders from the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, Sarawak Tourism Federation, and Imperial Hotel Kuching.

The Sarawak Tourist Guides Association (SKTGA) announced that the 1st ASEAN Tourist Guides Conference is taking place from 24–26 October 2024 at the Imperial Hotel Kuching, Sarawak.

The conference’s key message is “Togetherness in Tour Guiding Excellence”, focusing on a collaborative approach to elevate travel experiences and secure a stronger future for tour guide communities within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The availability of information and travel services online, which has made it easier for travellers to arrange trips without depending on tour guides, is one of the largest issues facing the tour-guiding industry. Due to the number of affordable options on the internet, travellers are now looking for other ways to save travel expenses and are doing away with particular leisure and travel services.

One of the key topics to be discussed at the 1st ASEAN Tourist Guides Conference is how tour guides can grow with the digital transformation era and make a positive change in the regional tour guiding community. The conference also aims to support the Sarawak government’s tourism development plans under the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy.

“Tourism is part of the services industry, which accounts for 37% of Sarawak’s gross domestic product in 2023. We collected RM9.99 billion in tourism receipts last year, which was a growth of 101.41%. Despite excellent statistics, we must prioritise the protection and promotion of tour guides, and educate the invaluable contributions and unique experiences they offer,” said Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak. “Tour guides are storytellers — they have historical and cultural information about the destination, offer personalised experiences and bridge language barriers and cultural gaps. Most of all, they ensure safety and security. Technology and independence cannot offer this level of travel experience and human interaction and it is important to keep it alive.”

SKTGA paid a courtesy visit to Dato Sri Abdul Karim to discuss matters related to the conference and how to maximise the event outcomes.

“As travel services digitalise, certain aspects of the travel and tour industry are declining. It is a wake-up call that tour guides must grow with technology, emphasise the strengths of the tour-guiding community and collaborate with relevant stakeholders to ensure that we remain thriving in the face of technology and changing consumer choices,” said Edwin Lim, Honorary Chairman of SKTGA. “Other challenges that we face as tour guides include sustaining during off-peak seasons and how to support younger guides into the career. By gathering key players at the 1st ASEAN Tourist Guides Conference, we hope to unite as a global community and transform the tourism landscape.”

“When associations face challenges like these, it makes legacy impact significant to drive solutions. Hosting the 1st ASEAN Tourist Guides Conference is about turning challenges into opportunities and making a positive impact on a community that is trying to sustain the industry and promote its expertise for a transformation in Sarawak’s tourism landscape” said Amelia Roziman, CEO of BESarawak. “An impact mindset is essential in transforming the tour guiding industry and business events will be the platform for STGA’s aspired change.”

This is the first tourist guide conference in ASEAN with a target of 400 delegates and is projected to generate RM3.3 million in total economic impact.

The 1st ASEAN Tourist Guides Conference is supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Sarawak, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak), the Malaysian Tourist Guide Council, Sarawak Tourism Board, and the Sarawak Tourism Federation.

Registration fees start at RM380/USD 90 for tourist guides and RM500/USD 115 for non-tourist guides and the public. The fees include entrance for both conference days inclusive of lunch and dinner, a familiarisation tour, 4 Continuous Tourism Related Education (CTRE) points for Malaysian licenced tour guides, and a Certificate of Attendance. 

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