Travel firms decry tour guide qualifications rules

Many travel firms have protested prevailing regulations requiring tour guides to have a bachelor’s degree, especially at a time they are in dire need of tour guides to serve international guests during this peak season of the inbound segment.

This problem has surfaced for a long time and got more heated now that the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is mulling some drafted amendments to the Tourism Law.

Under the Tourism Law, tour guides catering to international tourists are required to hold a university degree in their trade, and if having a degree in other majors, tour guides have to obtain a tourism certificate issued by a competent agency.

This very requirement on having a university degree has set up a barrier for those having experiences and good at foreign languages, especially less popular languages such as Russian, Korean and German. Such guides could not obtain a formal license or a tour guide card.

Therefore, many firms have no choice but to break the law. “We inform the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism in provinces that we use tour guides having no cards and expect their understanding although this goes against the Tourism Law,” said a director of a travel firm who asked not to be named.

A local firm even hired a tour guide speaking English to serve Russian tourists while the Russian partner had to send an English-to-Russian translator along so that tourists could understand.

“Meanwhile, many people who are good at Russian and can work as tour guides are too old to go to university to earn a degree,” said the chairman of the firm.

Nguyen The Vinh, deputy director of Saigontourist Travel Service Company, said that the regulation on tour guide qualifications should be made more flexible.

Similarly, according to Nguyen Van My, director of Lua Viet Tours Company, there are only several thousands of inbound tour guides while there are up to over six million international tourist arrivals. He also proposed that the regulation of should be simplified.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Vietnam had over 6,700 inbound tour guides registered as of last July.

Source: SGT