KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Tourism Ministry is taking the initiative to streamline the growing spa industry here to weed out those offering dubious services involving foreign women.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said the move included a self-regulatory rating system for spa operators and the ministry’s recommendation to the Immigration Department for approving the employment of foreign spa therapists.
“I have many women who have complained of massage centres mushrooming, particularly in Klang.
“The local council authorities must take the responsibility to ensure that illegal massage centres are weeded out,” she told reporters after launching the Spa Therapist Training Programme here Tuesday.
Of the 1,300 spa therapists in the country, she said 40% were locals while the remaining were foreigners.
Although the ministry is not the regulatory or enforcement body to deal with illegal massage outlets, she said they had written to the respective local councils and Mentris Besar to implement guidelines to better regulate the industry.
“Under the ministry’s self-assessment programme, our officers visited 402 spas, of which 134 did not qualify for rating.
“Of this, a total of 30 spas ceased operations,” she said.
Ng said the ministry had also introduced a programme to training school leavers as spa therapists in a move to professionalise the industry.
Under the programme, she said the spa industry was expected to generate RM666mil in revenue while employing some 5,644 therapists by 2020.
She added this was in line with ministry’s 12 entry point projects to further develop the nation’s tourism industry.