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Foreign ‘tour guides’ taking jobs that are reserved for Thais only

Foreign tour guides in Thailand
Foreign tour guides in Thailand

The caretaker Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, has ordered strict legal action against foreigners who are working as tour guides, which is a profession exclusively reserved for Thai nationals.

This announcement came after several complaints were filed, citing violation of the executive decree of 2017. According to government deputy spokeswoman Traisuree Taisarakul, the law clearly states that foreigners cannot work without a permit or fill jobs reserved for Thai citizens, including tour guide positions.

The penalty for violators is a fine ranging from 5,000 to 50,000 baht, immediate deportation, and a two-year ban on applying for a work permit.

In recent weeks the Phuket Provincial Office has also received complaints from businesses in the region, mostly in hospitality and tourism, where Russian nationals have started working in positions traditionally reserved for Thais only. In Bangla Road there are even some venues that appear to be fully operated by Russian staff, obviously aimed at the influx of Russian visitors at this time.

As prescribed by the notification of the Ministry of Labour, foreigners are not allowed to work as a tour guide which involves bringing tourists, whether individually or in groups, to travel to various location and providing advice and information to tourists in Thailand.

Moreover, foreigners are also prohibited in engaging in sightseeing tour operation which includes bringing tourists to travel for sightseeing or for other purposes and providing one or more services or facilities such as accommodation, food, guide or any other services – Thai Lawyers

The spokeswoman said that employers or businesses that hire foreign workers without a proper work permit or in a reserved occupation could face a fine ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 baht, per foreign employee. Repeat offenders could be imprisoned for up to one year and/or face a fine of 50,000 to 200,000 baht per foreign worker, as well as being banned from employing foreigners for three years.

Ms. Taisarakul stated that the PM had instructed the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, and the Royal Thai Police to enforce the law strictly to ensure that Thai citizens benefit the most from the tourism industry’s recovery. Since the government lacks sufficient personnel to monitor the entire country, the public is urged to report any offenders to the Central Employment Registration Division of the Department of Employment, provincial employment offices, or the Department of Employment hotline 1694.

Tour guides are a crucial aspect of the tourism industry in Phuket, and their importance cannot be overstated. They provide visitors with essential information about the local culture, customs, and history. They also offer insights into popular tourist destinations and help tourists navigate unfamiliar environments.

In addition, tour guides are often multilingual, which is a significant benefit for international visitors who may not speak Thai. By ensuring that tour guide jobs are reserved for Thai nationals, the government can help support the local economy and maintain the authenticity of Thai tourism.

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