DSI meets with tour operators to discuss Russian guide complaints

Friday, 07 February 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 6 By  Theerarak Suthathiwong

The Department of Special Investigations brought together government officials and tour operators to address a December complaint that illegal Russian tour guides were stealing Thai jobs.

DSI eastern region Director Pravit Chaibuadaeng met with Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya Director Auttaphol Wannakij, city hall officials, tourist police, the Burapha Tour Guides Club and 50 tour operators Jan. 29.

DSI eastern region Director Pravit Chaibuadaeng met with Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya Director Auttaphol Wannakij, city hall officials, tourist police, the Burapha Tour Guides Club and a handful of tour operators Jan. 29.DSI eastern region Director Pravit Chaibuadaeng met with Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya Director Auttaphol Wannakij, city hall officials, tourist police, the Burapha Tour Guides Club and a handful of tour operators Jan. 29.

The meeting is the latest DSI action following the Dec. 23 complaint by the Pattaya Tour Guide Club which claimed foreigners were stealing their jobs and ruining Thailand and its international reputation.

The club said members have not only lost jobs to foreigners who speak the same language as the foreign tourists, but that foreigners are misrepresenting Thai history, culture and traditions. They also complained that members who actually do have jobs are being paid below the legal minimum wage by many tour operators.

In a nod to the tour guide group, the DSI launched a raid on Pattaya’s Vitamax mall the same day. The supposed crackdown on sellers of illegally imported food supplements and cosmetics was merely a smokescreen for the targeting of Russian tour guides, as DSI officers arrested 22 at the site, along with four illegal Cambodians.

DSI launched two more raids on Parinya Herbal Products on Soi Nongkrabok and Siam Spa Extra Virgin in South Pattaya Jan. 7 hoping to nab Russian guides, but none were found.

Pravit said DSI is investigating four facets of the Thai guides’ complaint: that foreigners are illegally using the Thai-nominee system to set up tour companies, that Russians are working without work permits as guides, that foreign-operated firms are threatening and tricking tourists with false claims and advertising, and regulation of motorbike rentals.

Burapha club’s president presented Pravit with a similar complaint, urging tour companies to comply with existing laws and stop “taking advantage” of Thai tour guides.

Money, of course, lies at the heart of the complaint. Topping the list of Burapha’s demands were requirements that at least one Thai guide accompany each Russian guide on any tour and that each Thai guide receive a minimum 2 percent commission on all sales on shopping tours.

The group also demanded regular holidays, insurance coverage for any workplace accident and that Russian guides should show proper “respect” to their Thai counterparts as Thailand is their country and that many Russians are working illegally.

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