Proposal to tackle illegal tour guides and boost job opportunities submitted to prime ministerial candidates

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

Tour guides have presented a proposal to numerous prime ministerial candidates from various political parties, with the aim of eliminating unlawful tour guides and nominee businesses. They also hope that the proposed Tourist Guide Act will expand the scope of the profession, leading to increased employment opportunities.

Yesterday, representatives from the Professional Tourist Guides Association of Thailand visited political party offices to submit the proposal and request clarity on policies relating to tour guiding. Beginning with the Pheu Thai Party in the morning, Paisarn Suethanuwong, a committee member of the Association, stated that the tourism industry has not gained as many benefits as it should, since numerous foreign businesses and tour guides are returning to the country.

Paisarn expressed concern that major political parties have neglected the guiding profession, as most tend to concentrate on developing tourist attractions. Paisarn went on to say that there are now approximately 60,000 licensed tour guides, a decrease from over 70,000 in 2019. This decline is partly attributed to the reluctance of some to rejoin the industry, while others did not renew their licences.

While some argue that the influx of foreign tour guides is due to a labour shortage, Paisarn contended that there are enough English- and Mandarin-speaking guides to accommodate the growing markets, with an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 English-speaking guides and at least 10,000 Mandarin-speaking guides available. However, Paisarn acknowledged that shortages do exist in other languages, such as Polish, Russian and Korean.

Paisarn advised that solutions should be employed to tackle this issue, rather than allowing illegal foreign tour guides to work in Thailand. Possible options include employing English-speaking local guides to support foreign tour leaders. In the long term, Paisarn called for policies that would encourage the younger generation to pursue careers in the profession.

Paisarn suggested that these initiatives be facilitated by the Tourist Guide Council, the new body proposed in the draft of the Tourist Guide Act. The Council would have the power to participate in drafting regulations, investigate and counteract unlawful activities by cancelling tour guide licences, and negotiate better welfare and wages for workers. It could also issue tour guide diplomas, as well as propose amendments to inefficient regulations such as tour guide dress codes, and the minimum number of guides required by each group, reports Bangkok Post.

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