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JERANTUT: Licensed tourist guides at Taman Negara, one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests, are experiencing a sudden loss of income after the park closed its doors due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Taman Negara Nature Tour Guide Association president Mohamad Anas Zainudin said 170 tour guides, who rely heavily on tourist arrival to the national park, have now lost their main source of income. He said the tour guides here solely earn a living by taking up jobs provided by tour agents, resort operators and Gunung Tahan mountain guides.

"Every year, our income will drop between November and February due to the monsoon season before tourist arrivals pick up again in late February. The peak season is between June and September when a tourist from European countries start to visit the national park. "However, due to Covid-19 things look bleak for the tourism industry here and tourist guides are now facing hardship. We are usually well-prepared for the monsoon season but the Covid-19 outbreak has caught us by surprise. "I hope something is done to provide assistance to the tour guides who have always been on the frontline to promote tourism activities. We have been always working hard to promote tourism and now I hope someone will come to assist us," he said.

Meanwhile, Anas said he has been forced to fish at a nearby river to put food on the table while some of his friends have been forced to borrow money from relatives and friends to provide food for their families. "Everyone is facing tough times....we have no other options or opportunity to take up other jobs. Most of the villagers here work as tourist guides and we hope the authorities will help by providing some relief till we can return to work," he said. He said the 170 tourist guides here were those operating at Taman Negara Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara Sungai Relau Merapoh and Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre in Lanchang, Temerloh. Source : NST