Civil servants are barred from practicing as tour guides.
This is as per an agreement signed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) and Guide Association of Bhutan (GAB) with the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC).
GAB should be responsible for taking up guiding matters because according to GAB Secretary General, Sangay Phurba, the association does not want those already employed to snatch away the livelihood of others who are training to be professional guides.
However, sources told The Bhutanese that there are civil servants who are doing part-time guiding.
Namgay Tshering who has been guiding for almost four years now said that guides face problems because of people practicing the profession as a part-time job.
There are a total of 1,390 guides in the country, 300 more are undergoing training at the moment but only 500 guides are active in the market.
Ecotourism guide Pema said that going by the large number of visitors to the country, guiding if done properly is a lucrative profession hence many civil servants are opting to part-time tour-guide.
But some civil servants The Bhutanese talked to were of the view that since cost of living is shooting up by the day, given the opportunity everyone would prefer to do a part-time job like guiding.
A civil servant, Dorji said, “It’s not easy for a civil servant to be a part-time guide as he has limited number of holidays and it’s also not a good move from the guiding management to block civil servants from guiding.”
GAB is discussing the issue with TCB who apparently is concerned.
GAB wants to make guiding an attractive full-time career for youths.
“Guides will be given more specialized training to be more professional in collaboration with GAB and ABTO,” said the Head of Services Division of TCB, Kunzang Norbu.
However, a trainee, Jamyang Tenzin said, “I have been working as ticketing manager in a travel agency for six years but couldn’t apply for training until now because of time constraint.”
In collaboration with TCB, GAB conducts a survey periodically whereby guides have to renew their license and while doing so they have to state that they are not civil servants.
“Monitoring from GAB as well as from ABTO is weak so it’s difficult to find out who is guiding without a license or if someone is a civil servant,” added the Secretary General of GAB.
Most of the guides prefer to free-lance as they earn more and have the liberty to go and work with anyone they want.
“Everyone wants to earn more but the opportunity should be given to those who have the license and those with jobs shouldn’t avail the opportunity,” said a freelance guide, Pema Norbu.
GAB will also take initiative to talk about the remunerations to ABTO and other stakeholders as there is no fixed payment for guides.
GAB will also be classifying guides into four categories: Culture guide, Culture and Trekking guide, Senior (Sr.) Culture and Trekking and Tour leader and the proposal is submitted to TCB.
Gasey Lhendup, an employee of Aman Kora said that the field is becoming more challenging and competitive.
If a guide is caught misusing his license or if someone is caught without a license, he will be fined with Nu 5,000 and the license will be cancelled if he has one.