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Thai guides angered by Russian substitutes

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Thai guides angered by Russian substitutes | Thaiger

PHUKET: A group of about 10 Phuket tour guides on June 17 filed a complaint with Phuket Senator Thanyarat Atchariyachai, claiming that Russians were stealing their jobs by working as guides for Russian tour groups.

K. Thanyarat, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Tourism, was in Phuket with fellow committee members to sound out local businesspeople and report to Cabinet what they feel are the major problems facing the tourism industry.

The tour guides claimed that more and more Russians are being hired to work as guides for Russian tour agencies in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket.

The letter explained that Russian tourists generally buy plane tickets to Thailand and book their accommodation from their home country. But once in Thailand, the tourists buy travel packages to other destinations within Thailand through Thai companies that use Thai guides.

However, as local tour companies specializing in Russian tour groups are now hiring Russians as guides, Thailand is losing out, the letter said.

“Those travel agents bring Russians to work as tour guides and no longer hire Thai guides who can speak Russian,” the letter said.

The letter also said that many travel agents hired Thai guides as “sitting guides” to avoid being caught breaking the law.

One of the guides, who asked not to be named, said there are about 100 Thai tour guides who can speak Russian. Many are now unemployed, even though some graduated with master’s degrees in Russia and others had been conducting tours for Russian groups for more than 10 years, she said.

Some of the Russians working as guides were qualified doctors or teachers, but had come to work in Thailand because they can earn much more money here, she added.

The letter also claimed that illegal Russian guides told Russian tourists that Thai guides were unable to speak Russian and that many Thais were cheats and thieves.

Some Russians brought their relatives to work in Thailand, creating a bad reputation for the country as some of them stole valuables from clients, the letter stated.

For ease of communication, Russians tend to deal with other Russians when setting up and operating tourism-related businesses such as speedboat tours, restaurants, guesthouses and diving, the letter read.

The letter also claimed that many travel companies established by Russians had Thai nominees as shareholders.

Asking for urgent help from the government, the representative said that if nothing is done the same problems will arise as with Korean tour guides.

 

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