Each of the guides had to pay B22,000 for the three-week course.
One of the attendees told The Phuket News on condition of anonymity,“Although the course was expensive, and we lost many days of work, it was worth it because we are now legal and no longer have to pay bribes to police officers.”
From July 31 to August 20, lecturers from Naresuan University in Phitsanulok taught the guides Phuket history, public speaking in Thai, Chinese and English, conservation tourism policies and laws, and interpersonal relations.
In order to pass, the guides had to display a certain level of proficiency in English, Thai and – most importantly – Chinese. Five failed.
Addressing the newly legal guides when he handed them their licenses, Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (OrBorJor) President Paiboon Upatising said, “In the past, tourists from Australia and Europe were the main market. However, nowadays we see an increasing number of visitors from China.”
Tour guides without licenses, even if they are Thai, are subject to arrest. Illegal guides are resented from their legal counterparts, who staged a protest at Provincial Hall at the end of April.
A subsequent crackdown resulted in the arrests, in just two days, of two Chinese nationals and 13 Thais working illegally in Phuket as tour guides.