The current rules compel tour guides to have university degrees but the department has proposed downgrading the requirement to allow those holding vocational college degrees to apply for accreditation cards.
The city is now seriously short of tour guides able to speak French, German, Russian and Japanese.
According to the Law on Tourism, guides must be fluent in at least one foreign language and have a bachelor degree in tourism if they apply for an accreditation card. If they have a bachelor degree in other majors than tourism, they must get a professional tour guide certificate from a competent training institution.
According to the HCM City Department of Tourism, the city has a woefully small number of tour guides able to speak languages such as French, German, Russian and Japanese as few students choose to major in those languages and become tour guides.
Some tour operators have been forced to hire guides without accreditation cards or foreign guides to serve international tourists.
The city has the largest number of tour guides in the country, with 5,010 holding accreditation cards. Tour guides who can speak foreign languages number 2,639, and 1,738 of them serve English-speaking guests.
In 2016, about 5.2 million international visitors came to the city.