June 17, 2014 00:00 By Thiranat Sucharikul, Nichapa
THE DEPARTMENT of Tourism has collaborated with eight Thai universities to develop foreign language proficiency for tour guides in preparation for the upcoming Asean Economic Community (AEC).
Due to a lack of skilled tour guides proficient in languages such as Chinese, Russian, Korean or Japanese, to name a few, this potential development project aims to improve language competency needed in order to raise the standard of local tour guides in Thailand.
“Currently, there is a lack of people who are proficient in languages such as Russian and Chinese.
Because there are variations with their language, communication problems can lead to many misinterpretations or incorrect understanding of key ideas. Many Thai tour guides are then relegated to becoming sitting guides,” Thida Chongkonkiat, director of the Bureau of Tourism Business and Guide Registration, said.
It was important for these tour guides to satisfy the needs of the tourists, and provide correct and informative knowledge. The project could help solve the shortage of guides knowledgeable in foreign languages.
“Moreover, with the AEC set to be formed, Asean languages have become increasingly important. So potential tour guides must be able to provide services to their clients effectively,” Thida said.
The project encompasses the teaching of 10 languages, namely Russian, French, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indone-sian, Bahasa Malay and Myanmar.
The eight universities are Suan Dusit Rajabhat, Chiang Mai, Dhurakij Pundit, Naresuan, Chiang Rai Rajabhat, Phayao, Dhonburi Rajabhat, and Udon Thani Rajabhat.
Each of these universities will host one to two language courses out of the 10 languages for the registered tour guides free of charge. There is also an e-learning website, which can be accessed at www.tourismcentre.go.th.
“These people are important because they will be the first and last people the tourists will meet. This will affect how the tourists perceive Thailand as they become the first impression of the country,” Thida said.
There have been approximately 26.7 million tourists over the past year. Furthermore, the UN World Tourism Organisation had stated that Thailand was now a top destination – ranking 10th globally. In terms of income, Thai tourism ranks seventh globally.
The budget allocated for the project is Bt10 million per year and this will be used to bolster the growth of tourism businesses and guides. This is the fourth year of the project and it is expected to continue for at least another five years.