‘Tour Buddy’ programme illegal, says tour agency

Malaysia’s Tour Buddy programme launched last September is against the law, says Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).

Its president Tan Kok Liang today urged its 3,200 tour and travel firms nationwide not to engage with the service introduced by Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) and Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

He said “Tour Buddy” contravenes Clause 19 of the Tourism Industry Act 1992, which states: No licensed tourism enterprise shall employ, or obtain for a tourist or any other person the services of, a tourist guide who is not licensed under this Act or whose licence has been suspended or revoked.

“It is disappointing Mita and MDEC introduced Tour Buddy service to Malaysia as it will bring the local tourism industry into disrepute.

“There is no doubt disruptive technology would continue to make many existing jobs redundant while creating new ones, but existing laws must be observed by responsible organisations, unless they are above the law,” he said in a statement, today. 

Tour Buddy was launched following a one year collaboration between Mita and MDEC, an agency under the Multimedia and Communications Ministry, to develop the country’s digital tourism sector

Mita presdient Uzaidi Udanis was reported as saying some 2,000 people or companies will be tour buddies by end of this year, while MDEC chief operating officer Ng Wan Peng said selected individuals will be trained by industry experts before they become a full-fledged tour buddy. 

Tan said “Tour buddies” are illegal tourist guides and would be in hot water if caught by officers from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, adding they would also be penalised for organising tour packages and offering them online.

He added Tour Operating Business and Travel Agency Business (TOBTAB), as only licensed tour and travel agents are permitted to do so.

“Matta welcomes mobile apps that promote a destination, but not a platform that facilitates individuals to work as freelancers without being regulated,

“This will cause havoc among tour operators and tourist guides who are trained and licenced. 

“Unless the Tourism Industry Act 1992 undergoes further amendment, all existing laws must be complied and enforced to ensure a level playing field for all,” he said.

Tan said those found flouting the law could be fined up to RM20,000 or jailed two years. – February 8, 2018.