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Language training offered to tour guides

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Language training offered to tour guides | Thaiger

PHUKET CITY: Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura has authorized the disbursement of 1.5 million baht from provincial coffers to give 100 hours of foreign-language instruction to tour guides in Phuket. Foreign nationals are barred from being tour guides because it is a “reserved occupation” for Thais only, but guides adept in Russian, Swedish, Korean, Chinese and German are in short supply. This has resulted in foreign guides working in Phuket – ostensibly as “interpreters” with Thai “sitting guides” given the task of deflecting uncomfortable questions from police or Immigration officers as to the role of the so-called interpreter. However, at least one Korean tour guide has been arrested and sources suggest that corruption – as well as illegality – is rife throughout the industry. Special attention is being given to the Korean market – an estimated 700,000 Koreans visit Thailand annually – following problems that, according to Panomphol Thummachartniyom, President of the Phuket Professional Guide Association (PPGA), stretch back 10 years. The hope of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization and the PPGA is to see 200 Korean-speaking Thai guides graduate from the language course. K. Panomphol told the Gazette that there are 33 Thai guides in Phuket sufficiently fluent in Korean to serve the market, but that this figure is not enough. However, he was not impressed with this new opportunity for Thai guides keen to serve the rising trend of inbound Korean tourists. Indeed, he dismissed the Korean market out of hand. “Korean tourists don’t have much effect on the Thai economy because they visit only Korean-owned businesses when they’re on holiday here,” he said. Training will take place at a new facility – the Phuket International Language Institute – within the Prince of Songkhla University Phuket Campus, and is due to start next month.

 

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