Eco-tourism is in demand now

KUALA LUMPUR - "Tourists are moving away from wanting to visit big cities and are now more interested in seeing the beauty of nature in the countries they visit," said the president of the tourist guides council.

Therefore, the Malaysian Tourist Guides Council (MTGC) will kick off Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014 with a community service project in Kundasang, Sabah, said council president Jimmy Leong.

Aimed at promoting Sabah as a tourist destination, the tourist guides from all over the country will gather there and spend a day cleaning up the village.

The three-day community service project will be held in conjunction with World Tour Guides Day on Feb 21.

During the programme, guides will also be taken on a visit to Kinabalu Park, the Desa Cattle farm and Poring hot springs, which are the major attractions in Kundasang.

Sabah Native Registered Tourist Guides Association president George Rejos said trekking and hiking activities are very popular among tourists, especially the Europeans.

"Sabah has been, without fail, among the top five states which received the highest number of tourists every year over the past 20 years because of the wildlife, jungle and, of course, Mount Kinabalu," he said at the opening of the council's three-day 4th National Tourist Guides Conference here.

Over 200 delegates from the tourism industry attended the conference.

Leong said the papers presented during the conference focused on how tourist guides could collaborate to attract more tourists to Malaysia.

"By next year, tourist guides must be prepared to provide the best services and be up to date on all the latest tourism products," he said.

If necessary, Leong said the council will embark on a state-to-state roadshow to meet tourist guides in preparation for VMY 2014.