BANGKOK, 25 July 2017: Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, is adamant that foreigners will not be allowed to work as tour guides in Thailand as the country revises a list of jobs that are reserved exclusively for Thai citizens.
According to the Royal Thai Government website, the government has no policy to allow foreign tour guides to work in Thailand as it is one of the occupations reserved exclusively for Thai citizens, as stipulated in the Foreign Business Act, B.E. 2542 (1999).
The government spokesperson, Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, said the PM made he comments in response to the Professional Tourist Guide Association of Thailand’s that has been lobbying the government to act on the problem of illegal tour guides.
As of 30 June this year, 70,655 tour guides are registered with the Department of Tourism; 46,800 of them are general guides, while 19,154 are area-specific (provinces).
In terms of language, the largest number are English-speaking guides, followed by Chinese and Japanese. However, the number of registered guides is still not enough to meet the massive increases from some countries.
The Prime Minister assigned the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to discuss with Ministry of Education on ways to the train more guides.
He also urged tour guides to keep developing their own skills to match entrepreneurs’ demands.
The government spokesperson claimed that authorities prosecute tour companies that hire foreign tour guides or conduct forced shopping stops at shops. However, there are no announcements made or independent confirmation by travel trade associations that their members are under investigation or face prosecution. Travel consumers have no avenue to verify if a company they are planning to use abides by guidelines or legal procedures re guides and tour content.
Talks are underway with China’s Department of Tourism Promotion to suppress illegal tours at their origin, and scrutinise nominations before approving license to tourism-related businesses that are engaged in so-called zero-dollar tourism.
For the first half of this year, Thailand welcomed 17.32 million international tourists increasing 4.41% from 16.59 million visits during the same period last year.
Last year, the country attracted 32.58 million international visits improving 8.91% from 29.92 million visits in 2015. The top 10 source markets were China, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Laos, India, Russia, UK, US and Singapore.