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Phuket guides in training give a round of applause in class

Phuket Guides Aim to Outperform Expats

Tuesday, March 23, 2010
MORE Thai tour guides are being trained this month on Phuket to replace expat guides, especially for visitors coming from China, Korea and Russia.

The jobs are for Thais but tour groups from some countries continue to bring guides from their home countries.

''How can you possibly explain the culture or describe the Andaman in detail without having lived here?'' asked Wirote ''Willy'' Sitaprasertnand, president of the Federation of Thailand Tourism Association.

A total of 101 people from Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi are being trained in the region's history, religion and culture as well as hospitality and computer skills at the Phuket Community College at Saphan Hin in Phuket City. The students already have skills in Chinese, Russian, English, Korean and other languages.

''We are not against visitors working here but these jobs are for Thai people,'' Khun Wirote said.

He said that Phuket was recovering well and would eventually reassert itself as a prime destination. Having direct flights isolated Phuket from the political nervousness of Bangkok.

''If the Government helps with preserving the environment properly and maintaining infrastructure, Phuket will be an attractive destination for a long time to come.''

He said the Government also needed to more actively support Thai guides. ''Many tour companies are nominee companies and bring their own guides,'' he said.

''Some nationalities use accommodation owned by their citizens, take the tourists to shops and restaurants owned by their citizens, and employ their own citizens as guides. How does Phuket benefit from that?''

Chinese guides especially left their tourists with no choice.

''Independently minded tourists should come by themselves and find appropriate guides here,'' Khun Wirote said. ''That way, they will get a much better holiday and learn why Phuket and Thailand are so wonderful.''

Other courses have already been held in two sessions in Bangkok.

Among the speakers to the trainees has been Promchote Traivate, former head of the Phuket office of the Tourism and Sport Ministry and the 2008 Phuketwan Phuket Person of the Year.

''This is aimed at helping to give guides a complete understanding of their jobs. Guides have an important role in making sure that tourists have a good holiday and want to return.

''Phuket has changed a lot, even since I was here. Numbers through the airport are growing. But many of the arrivals are now heading off the island, to explore Krabi and Phang Nga.''


Comments have been disabled for this article.


One of my wife's friends has been a tour guide for the last several years. She's quitting once high season is over. She says that there's too much problem with expats living in Phuket and Samui, offering tours for pay, but if questioned they all claim that they are "friends" from their home country. Just so happens that these unofficial guides have hundreds of friends visiting them practically every day.

Posted by Some Guy on March 24, 2010 02:34


Better teach them to be prompt, perpetual lateness seems to be perfectly acceptable in the Thai workforce, that and doing as little work as possible... Expats have a far more productive work ethic.

Posted by Ex Pat Business on March 24, 2010 08:27


I doubt this will work much. Take Korean for example, How many thai guides can speak FLUENT Korean? It's hard enough to find ones that speak fluent English... and of those that can really speak Korean, how many won't have the Thai "Mi bin rai" attitude that plagues so many Thais?

The thing that gets me is that being a tour guide is one of the "protected" jobs, yet you see foreign tour guides everywhere... Wonder why that is?

Posted by Chris on March 24, 2010 14:41


Recently one of these ''guides'' speared a four-foot grouper of a local beach. No fish, no divers, no jobs.

Posted by Confused on March 25, 2010 14:21


Are there any Thai Tour Guides who are fluent in Russian and it's many dialects ?
I ask because they are needed.
Thank you.

Posted by Graham on March 28, 2010 21:38


Only an expat can compare Phuket to what the foreigners are used to or explain things in a way they will understand!

Posted by ted on March 28, 2010 22:31


Believe it or not its all about getting the right balance, there's nothing wrong about the training, its all positive.

The next step would be to work with the Koreans etc and make sure they have to employ registered trained, decent paid thai guides alongside theirs.

These expat tour companies are milking Thailand of their RIGHT, and sending there ill-gained money back to their own country.

As well as damaging the name of Phuket tourism, get a balanced system that would work.

Posted by jd on March 30, 2010 08:13


@JD One of the largest Korean tour companies in Phuket does just that, they have a Korean tour guide and a well paid thai guide on every tour bus. But even that is still illegal. Foreigners can't be guides legally. Its a shame really as with NO foreign guides the guest numbers would dwindle, and then all those Thais employed by tourism would suffer.

Posted by Chris on April 7, 2010 15:06


My suggestion is that each foreign tour operator must employ a least two Thai people (this could be based on how many tourist the company brings to Phuket) This is common in other countries. This is also a way for the the Thai guide to learn a little more of the language etc.

But I do suggest that many Thai people in the service line need better education in taking care of the tourists. People demand higher standards and a spend a lot of many on their vacation only to find that the Thai person in for example the hotel lobby can not speak sufficient English/French/Italian/Russian etc.

Posted by Anna Davies-Hedman on April 10, 2010 20:22


I have nothing against Thai tour guides, but the quality of my last tour in Phuket was horrible. The only thing that saved it was the amazing nature of Thailand.

As someone here said, one foreign guide, one local guide and one driver. Both guides would complement and learn from each other.

Posted by from Europe on April 16, 2010 22:43


I am an expat living in Phuket since 2004. I worked 2 years as a guide for a local boat tour operator. During a day out at Similan. My colleague (Thai guide) was escorting a group of Germans: These people paid 3.500 baht and they were told they had German speaking guide but my colleague could barely say 2 or 3 sentences in german. The group eventually got quite angry (I was in the boat and I can tell you they were pissed off)and the local boat tour operator lost the German Travel Agent's next bookings. Besides, I cannot tell you how many times the so called "professional THAI guides" have been trained by EXPATS and how many times these "professionals" lack the knowledge about safety. I've personally seen even one of them fishing at Ko 8 at Similan Island together with the boat captain (is absolutely forbidden). Once the Association of Professional Thai Guides will get rid of these people, then they can talk about expat doing their job .... which usually gets more client's satisfaction (how is it?)

Posted by cekipa on October 2, 2010 12:37

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