Korean tour operators were invited by the Phuket office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for a meeting to discuss the hotly debated topic of illegal Korean tour guides operating on the island. Being a tour guide is a profession reserved for Thais, yet many Koreans continue to do so illegally. In a bid to restrict the increasing number of illegal Korean guides, the governor’s office announced a memorandum of understanding at the meeting that requires Korean operators to employ Korean-speaking Thais as guides. Korean tour operators at the meeting raised concerns that after employing Thai guides, many of them would quit and set up their own companies or work freelance, leading to staffing shortages. In a letter written to sent to the Phuket governor, some 25 Thai tour guides alleged that government officials had been taking bribes from Korean tour operators to allow them to continue hiring illegal guides.
Phuket Gazette