Vietnam sets up guide association

HANOI, 13 November 2017: Vietnam’s guides gain recognition as the country establishes the first Vietnam Association of Tour Guides (VATG).

During its official launch, last week, officials said it would protect tour guides’ rights and raise the reputation of guiding as an important career that presents the country positive image to foreign visitors.

Guide are the people who have the most contact with tourists, and this role means they are unofficial ambassadors of the country.

Deputy president of the Vietnam Tourism Association (VNTA), Vu The Binh,  said that the number of tour guides in Vietnam has increased sharply over the past years, to nearly 20,000 at present.

However the cases of guides working without accreditation has also increased. In 2016 alone, the government uncovered 200 cases of fraudulent certification documents.

In addition to legal violations, some tour guides lacked necessary professional skills and failed to meet international tourists’ expectations. VATG aims to address those problems, the deputy president told the media attending the association’s launch.

“The guides are the ones who meet and interact most with tourists,” he said. “That’s why the impression of tourists will depend almost entirely on guides.

However, the career is precarious. More than 50% of guides do not have social insurance. Working conditions are tough and tour companies pay by the day based on job assignments as they do for temporary or contract workers.   If there are no assignments the guides have no income.

“Working without supervision of any state agencies, it understandable that there have been recent problems relating to tour guides,” he added.

In theory, the Tourism Law 2017 prescribes clearly the qualifications of tour guides stating they can only work if they have a tour guide card,  they must registered staff at specific travel agencies or companies and they must be members of VATG. At the launch ceremony, the deputy head of the Travel Department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Pham Le Thao, said that the association filled an important gap in the tourism industry.

“It is a social organisation for Vietnamese citizens working as tour guides. The association will represent its members’ rights and legal interests and sharpen their professional skills,” she said.

“Although the management of tour guides and their activities has improved slightly, it is definitely not an easy task because the number of tour guides is quite large,” she said.

(Source: VNAT)