Tour guides to ask PM to act on illegal foreign guides

PHOTO: Tour guides are calling on PM Prayut to take action against illegal foreign guides. (via Thai PBS World)

Chinese-speaking tour guides in Thailand have called for the government to take action against illegal foreign guides who they claim are stealing their jobs. The Professional Guide Association of Thailand held a meeting on Saturday to discuss the issue and vow to escalate the issue all the way up to the prime minister.

The association lamented that the number of tour guide jobs doesn’t seem to match the number of incoming tourists. While foreign tourist statistics have been growing in leaps and bounds since October 2022, tourism jobs for Thai tour guides have not grown in the same proportion.

The group argues that the jobs are there, but 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.

These illegal guides are taking away jobs from Thai tour guides who are properly licensed. The group complained that they have previously called for action from authorities, but the government has not taken any action.

The chairman of the guide association claimed it’s not just individuals stealing local jobs. Since China announced a re-opening for international tourism, Chinese investors have been accused of swarming into popular travel areas and running their tours, crippling the local tour companies.

The hit to legal Thai tour guides especially stings after several harsh years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many tour guides had to give up and seek a new career in another industry as closed borders left them with no customers and little to no help from the government.

The group has now decided to file another petition, this time directly with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to look into the issue. They are calling on the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Ministry of Labour, as well as other relevant government agencies, to support local and legal tour guides and ramp up punishment and enforcement for those acting as illegal unlicensed 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.