Shortage of tour guides causes problems

PHUKET: The island is suffering from a serious shortage of licensed tour guides, giving rise to increasing complaints from tourists, a meeting called by the Phuket Chamber of Commerce heard on Wednesday. While there are 363 licensed tour operators in Phuket, there are just 135 licensed guides, those at the gathering heard. The meeting – which brought together representatives of the local office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Phuket Guide Association, and the Tourist Police – was called in response to complaints from tourists about tour operators, particularly small operators along Patong Beach and other tourist haunts. The tourists complained about tours with unlicensed “guides” who did not know what they were talking about, or who took them to buy fake jewelry or high-priced, poor-quality goods. “We’ve had complaints from local expatriates as well as tourists,” Chawana Kiattichavanasawee, the Chamber’s director of investment, said after the meeting. As a result of the meeting, action is being taken to correct the problems, both short-term and long-term. The Tourist Police have been checking small tour operators and reporting unlicensed ones to the TAT and to local police. The TAT, meanwhile, will be asking Tambon councils for their help in locating unlicensed operators so that they can receive advice on how to get licenses. Long-term, the Rajabhat Phuket Institute and the Prince of Songkhla University are to be urged to train more guides, not only in English but also in German, French and other major languages used by tourists. One of the primary causes of the guide shortage, however, has not been addressed. Under Thai law, only Thai nationals may work as tour guides. Germans may not guide Germans, Koreans may not guide Koreans, etc, etc.

Phuket News

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