Some guidance for tour guides

your say June 24, 2015 01:00

Regarding Friday's article about tour guides in Pattaya who are annoyed about farang competition, it's understandable, them wanting to stifle competition, similar to taxi drivers.



The lesser concern, for them, is what tourists prefer to do on vacation. Tourists prefer a guide who speaks their own language and who doesn’t take them to commercial outlets where they feel compelled to buy things. There’s also the issue of what’s being shown to the tourists. Often local guides will not show their region’s most enjoyable features, but rather what’s most convenient for them – what’s closest and easiest to drive to – and places where nearby vendors, hotels and restaurants pay kick-backs.

Tourists enjoy natural phenomena (seeing wild birds and animals, for example) more than visiting a shop run by the guide’s uncle who sells overpriced souvenirs. Tourists would rather hike along a nature trail than visit smog-addled attractions downtown. Farang guides are more in tune with their countrymen and have a better idea of what they’ll enjoy doing on vacation. Local guides are more interested in making money quickly, and in not in driving their nice vans anywhere far from the well-surfaced roads.
Seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat can be the highlight of a tourist’s trip. However, that was rare 30 years ago and even rarer today. In Florida, though, there are sanctuaries for dugongs (the only vegetarian sea mammal, which can grow as big as a buffalo). Tourists flock to those nature reserves. In Sri Lanka there are sea-turtle hatcheries, which are also popular. How many turtle or dugong sanctuaries exist in Thailand? My guess is zero. So here’s a suggestion for Thai tour guides: Take the tourists to places that are in tune with nature. That’s what tourists love to do. If such places don’t exist in Thailand, then petition the Tourism Authority or your local authorities to do a better job. 
Ken Albertsen