Today there are 3,375 registered tour guides in the country who are trained from different guide training institutes. As of now there are nine such training institutes with courses accredited by the Department of Occupational Standards (DoS).
However, there is now increasing questions on the quality of some of these institutes.
While awarding the certificates to the batch of trainees who graduated from Advanced Institute for Tourism on Friday, Rinzin Penjor, Judge of the Supreme Court reminded them that as a guide one is like an ambassador and should be able to promote the cultures of Bhutan and be equipped with relevant knowledge so that the visitors are not misguided about the country.
Anyone aspiring to operate such guide training institutes must fulfill the criteria set by MoLHR and its stakeholders. However, the main concern is the quality such institutes.
Sources reveal that the aspiring operators hire some highly experienced person’s CV and designate them as the institute’s trainers and submit it to MoLHR, when the ground reality is, institutes after acquiring license and certificates, hire trainers without enough experience to train the trainees. Therefore with absence of vigilant monitoring, the quality and standard of the tour guides produced every year in the market is compromised.
Mr. Tandin Dorji said that the Ministry is not aware about such activities so far. “If the guide trainees from any of the institutes have any feelings of being deceived, they should come with formal complaints, and we will form a special committee and take necessary actions thereafter. The guides confidentiality will also be maintained,” he said.
There are strong claims that Iconography, one of the subjects included in the curriculum for the trainees is being taught in Dzongkha as a medium of communication in some of the institutes. “The guides, when they are in the field, find it difficult to translate the terminologies into English because they have been taught in Dzongkha by their trainers. Therefore, in the process, accurate translation is lost and the foreigners are misguided. Such deterioration in the standard of guides in the market due to increasing number of profit driven institutes without quality trainers can be hugely detrimental to our tourism sector, ultimately staining our country’s image,” said a former guide.
Rebecca Pradhan, who has been recognized as one of the biodiversity ‘Hotspot Heroes’ by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, requested the trainees to stay away from drugs and alcohol during duty hours. And as a guest lecturer for AIT she shared her experience on encountering many inebriated guides during duty hours, ruining the foreigners visits and ultimately ruining the country’s stature in the international front.
Mr.Tandin Dorji said that MoLHR and its stakeholders will be conducting a training soon to train all the trainers and provide refreshers course so that uniformity in delivery of content can be achieved. He also added that now the matters regarding unethical practices by some of the training institutes have surfaced, they will discuss on the possibility of setting ceiling for operation of guide training institutes in the country or explore other means for improvement.