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Thai guides are regarded as essential where standards are met

Phuket Task Force to Protect Guides, Dive Jobs

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
ANDAMAN translator guides and local dive instructors are the first groups to suffer from the economic downturn, with many struggling to find work.

Deputy Director-General of the Office of Tourism Development, Somprasong Khomapat, paid a flying visit to the island yesterday to attempt to improve job opportunities for Thai workers.

He has left on Phuket two staff from Bangkok who will join seven others in a special task force on the island to make sure there is no discrimination against Thai guides.

The credentials of diving instructors will also be checked in a bid to make sure qualified Thai instructors are assured of precedence over foreign workers.

The Governor, Dr Preecha Ruangjan, told Phuketwan that several diplomatic representatives had pressed him to allow more foreigners to work as guides and diving instructors.

''I told them, 'Thais can do those jobs,''' the governor said. ''But we do need to make sure we are able to meet international standards.

''It's good to have this issue being dealt with so actively.''

Local guides, especially those dealing with Korean and Russian visitors, have in the past found themselves nudged to one side by tour operators who bring their own guides from those countries.

In some cases, as a compromise, Thai guides become ''sitting guides.'' ''Sitting guides'' are paid to travel with a group, but the actual work is done by others.

In today's harsh economic times, the jobs of the ''sitting guides'' are disappearing, and the pressure is on to have foreign guides in more tour groups.

However, Thai guides say they have adequate language training and are usually better informed to answer the kinds of questions posed by tourists about Thai culture and history, as well as alternative activities.

The diving industry is suffering a severe downturn because there are fewer tourists, and those who do come are spending less on tours and dive courses.

Competition for jobs is becoming more intense. The Thai authorities plan to make sure it is the foreigners, not the Thais, whose jobs will be lost.

The new task force on Phuket will be policing both the diving industry and the credentials of guides to ensure that Thais with the appropriate qualifications take precedence.

''This is good for Phuket because our island is an international destination and we need international standards,'' the governor said.

''If the performance of Thais measures up to international standards, there is no need for those jobs to be filled by experts from other countries.''

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Comments have been disabled for this article.


"The Thai authorities plan to make sure it is the foreigners, not the Thais, whose jobs will be lost. " Brilliant one, Thai authorities. If I loose my job, I go onto a retirement visa and still stay here, BUT, my thai staff of eight plus all my shareholders, lose their jobs. Toughies for them Thais once again, hey ? Then what do you think they will do, come to you for work ?

Posted by Shocked on February 18, 2009 10:32


As dive tourists number dwindles, you still see as much farang dive guides in the gogo bars p***ing about thailand. Some of them has no work permits, has no clue about the dive sites, yet is paid twice more than the average thai guides simply because he's white. These guys simply wish to see as much of thailand as possible on a free ticket, and has minimal contribution to thai economy or growth. So as an employer, i'd too rather these foreigners lose their jobs than the thai locals who has mouths to feed.

Posted by Linny on February 23, 2009 11:15


This is a 2waystreet in many ways, and in my opinion there is not a clear answer how should this be dealt with. There are plenty of tourists coming with tour operators (f.ex Scandinavians) who wish to have services in their own language - ie hotel transfers, tours etc. which makes tourists feel comfortable - and buy more of the tours and do shopping. Unfortunately the numbers of Thai Guides speaking these languages is extremely low, why companies are sending their tour leaders here to boost tourism. In this way - it is a win-win situation for all - more jobs for locals, more income. In the worst case scenario, if tour leaders would be losing their jobs, it will also create less income for Locals as many of these tour operators guests would simply not buy optional tours. And as the word starts to spread of the minimal services in their own language, those who speak limited english would turn to other countries, where they would feel safe and comfortable and receive the basic services and optional services in their own language. And Yes, every single bus on transfers and tours has allready now at least the official guide - sitting or not - among the tour leader who speaks the language. In all respect to Local Guides, whose knowledge and friendliness is brilliant - we also want more work for you.

Posted by alanon on February 27, 2009 19:55


Today I found a dive shop, just taken over by a new Thai Owner and her staff of Thais. Looks good things may be equalling out. Peace and justice for all Phuket's residents. There is room enough for everybody.

Posted by Graham on March 5, 2009 16:08


Good one, the farang are taking jobs from the Thai Dive Instructors? Mmmmmmm

Please send me some Thai Insts then, cos the ones that I speak to would rather "work" on the day boats as guides than as instructors as they earn more, have little or no real responsibility and get to sell more cd's to people than if they had to work as proper insts.

That being said I do think that its about time that they toughened up on all the illegal workers here, actually could do it on a week. No one on a boat without a work permit except for those listed as customers...... whats so hard to do about that?

Posted by Alan on March 12, 2009 19:41

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