2 foreigners arrested while acting as illegal tour guides

PHOTO: Two illegal foreign tour guides were arrested in Bangkok. (via BKK Post)

Two foreign nationals have been arrested by the Department of Employment (DoE) for illegally working as tour guides in Bangkok. They were caught near the Ratchaprasong intersection in Pathumwan district.

The suspects, a Chinese and a Vietnamese national, were detained after the Professional Tourist Guide Association of Thailand (PGAT) lodged complaints last week that foreign tour guides were stealing their jobs.

According to DoE’s director-general, Pairoj Chotikasathien, the investigation was assigned by the Minister of Labour Suchart Chomklin. Officials from the DoE worked alongside Bangkok Employment Office 1 and the Lumpini Police Station to conduct a joint operation on Thursday at the Ratchaprasong intersection.

They apprehended the two foreign guides as they led tour groups at the intersection. Police later charged them each with working without a permit.

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Just last week, Chinese-speaking tour guides in Thailand called for the government to take action against illegal foreign guides who they claim are stealing their jobs. A meeting was held last Saturday to discuss the issue and guide associations vowed to escalate the issue all the way up to the prime minister.

They argue that foreigners are coming to Thailand and acting as guides illegally without the required guide license. Even if a foreigner wanted to get a license, it is impossible. Being a tour guide is a protected occupation in Thailand, meaning that foreigners cannot hold that job, as the DoE director-general explained.

“A professional tour guide is a job reserved for Thais, so foreigners are not eligible to apply for a work permit to serve this role.”

Foreigners who operate as illegal guides without a permit can be fined up to 50,000 baht. They also face deportation and a two-year ban on applying for a proper work permit, according to the Royal Decree on the Management of Alien Work.

One member of PGAT lamented the lack of demand for local tour guides despite Thailand’s full reopening for tourism in October last year. Tour guides, who received little to no government aid during Covid-19 are struggling financially, and illegal foreign guides are costing them jobs.

He added specifically that the influx of Chinese tourists since the country loosen its rules in January hasn’t helped tour guides, as Chinese operators prefer hiring Chinese guides.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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