The HCMC Tourism Department has reassured the 19,000 freelance tour guides that they will not have to become members of tourism associations or tour guide associations.
Under the new Tourism Law, tour guides can practice if they can satisfy three requirements. They must have tour guide cards and labor contracts signed with travel firms, or tour guide service firms, or membership in professional associations in tourism. They also must have contracts on providing tour guide services, or documents on duty assignments.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has asked agencies to strengthen control over tour guides and establish the Vietnam Tour Guides Association.
Vietnam has about 20,000 tour guides, including 19,000 freelancers, while 90 percent of them are not controlled by any organization. VNAT hopes the new law will help manage freelance tour guides.
Tran Van Hoa from Asia DMC said tour guides have expressed satisfaction about the new law, complaining that they had been railroaded to join associations, pay tax and fees and contribute to funds
Members of associations are required to register to become a Viettel subscriber and have one smartphone.
Deputy general director of VNAT Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong said the biggest advancement of the new law is that all provisions are designed to serve travelers.
Regarding regulation about the membership of professional associations, Huong said the Vietnam Tour Guide. Association is not the only professional association.
“This means that tour guides do not have to join the association to be able to practice as a tour guide,” she said.
The deputy director of the HCMC Tourism Department La Quoc Khanh said if tour guides have guide cards and labor contracts with travel firms as requested by law, they won’t have to worry about membership in the Vietnam Tour Guides Association.
Ha Tat Thang, a Spanish and English speaking tour guide, said it is not necessary to require both the labor contract and tour guide contract.
Vietnam is seriously lacking tour guides. According to Nguyen Van My, president of Lua Viet, in 2017, Vietnam received 13 million foreign travelers, but there were only 12,000 international tour guides.
The shortage of tour guides for domestic tours is even more serious. Vietnam had 70 million domestic travelers in 2017, but there were only 7,927 tour guides. The country needs 50,000 tour guides.
Vietnam welcomed more than 13 million foreign visitors and served 73.2 million domestic tourists to earn US$23 billion.