Tour Guides Picket Firms Over Unlicensed Staff

 | Thu 4 Sep 2014 00:15 ICT

CityNews – Around 30 tour guides yesterday picketed the offices of a company that specialises in tours for Chinese nationals, to urge the owner to cooperate with them and not hire unlicensed guides.
Photo: Weerasak Panyachod.

The members of the Care of Lanna Tour Guide Organisation turned up at the offices of Qing Zhong Tours in Chiang Mai’s Chang Klan sub-district.

They asked the owner not to hire illegal tourist guides for so-called “zero-dollar tours” and “kickback tours”, since they damage the reputation of Chiang Mai’s tourist industry.

On the zero-dollar tours, Chinese tourists are offered a cheap rate for a package trip to Thailand but are forced to buy extra services or pressured into buying expensive goods from selected shops. In some cases, tourists have reportedly been threatened and abandoned by their guides when they refuse to do so.

The kickback tours involve Thailand-based tour companies paying Chinese agencies to supply them with tourists.

The owner of Qing Zhong Tours said it would look into the matter and cooperate with the group.

The tour guides were protesting  “not only to save jobs for legal guides, but also to keep the image of Chiang Mai,” said the group’s leader Manop Saejia, adding that these problems have only been occurring for the past four or five months.

Members of the group protested outside Chiang Mai provincial hall last month, calling for action to end these practices.

“This protest might make the entrepreneurs who illegally run businesses stop doing these tours for a while,” said Manop, who pledged to keep checking that companies were not using unlicensed guides.

He said they would call on other tour companies and service centres in Chiang Mai, urging them to take action too.