PHUKET TOWN: Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi today spearheaded an attack on the problem of illegal Korean tour guides at a high-level political meeting. The meeting, at the Phuket Provincial Hall, brought together MPs from the Parliamentary Tourism Committee and local tourism officials. “Thai guides have complained that Koreans have become the real guides, Gov Pongpayome said, “while the Thai guides just sit there. “The main problem is communication. Thai guides can’t speak Korean, and Koreans can’t speak Thai. This leads to tourists being given misleading explanations of Thai culture. “Koreans must be translators only, and not guides. If Koreans want to be guides, they must pass the examination and have work permits. And, in order for Thai guides to communicate with Korean customers, they must learn to speak Korean,” Gov Pongpayome said. Songsak Thongsri MP, President of the Tourism Committee and chairman of the meeting, said, “We need to come up with a solution that fixes the problem and makes tourists want to come back to Thailand. I think we can solve this problem. “But everybody should realize how arrests of Korean tour guides in front of tourists affects the tourists’ impression of Thailand,” he said. Phuket MP Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr, Vice-president of the committee, approached the problem from a business perspective. She said, “To solve the problem of low-quality tour guides, including Chinese and Koreans, I think we should focus on the tour companies that bring in the guides.” K. Anchalee advocated reducing the number of foreign-owned tour operators by raising the registration fee from 300,000 baht per company to 500,000 baht. She added that operators should be required to work out of identifiable offices, not houses, and that tours should support Thai culture.
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