Under the new law, tour guides must have tour guide cards and sign labor contracts with travel firms, or they must be members of tour guide associations.
Pham Le Thao, deputy director of the Travel Department, said in the past, the requirements were not set because the number of tour guides was small. But now, when the number of tour guides has increased rapidly, it is necessary to change the way of management.
There are more than 20,000 tour guides and most of them are freelancers, which makes it difficult to control. Around 19,000 freelance tour guides in Vietnam, according to the Tourism Association, are not under control of any organization. This has caused chaos in the market and negative consequences.
A representative of the Da Nang Tourism Association said because of the loose control, many Vietnamese tour guides act as ‘sitting guides’ and lend a hand to foreign firms to provide services illegally in Vietnam.Tour guides are anxious as they may lose jobs because of the new regulation.
Tinh, a freelance tour guide who mostly serves travelers from the Republic of Korea, said he could not understand why he must work for travel firms to be able to provide services.
“The practice cards show that we are legal practitioners. No need to require us to join travel firms or associations,” he commented.
“It would be very costly to obtain membership in the tour guides’ association. I am not sure if the association can protect our interest,” he said.
Tinh said that the new regulation is disliked by by travel firms. “In general, travel firms only have several permanent tour guides who work for them under labor contracts. The other tour guides are freelancers. Hiring freelancers helps them cut costs,” he explained.
“It is not easy for us to become official workers of travel firms,” he said.
Nguyen Tuan Quyen, a tourism expert, said the new regulation will cause difficulties for freelance tour guides.
To meet the new requirements, freelancers will have to seek jobs at companies which provide tour guide services or join tour guides’ association. However, companies such as this have not been set up. This means that they have only one choice – joining the association.
Meanwhile, Le Ha Gia Thanh from the HCMC Bar Association, said the new regulation is unreasonable.