If everything goes well at the upcoming board meeting, tour guides will start receiving a Daily Subsistence Allowance, DSA, of more than Nu 3,000 starting next month. The allowance will also cover their professional fees. The proposal was made during a consultative meeting between the Department of Tourism and the Guides Association of Bhutan yesterday. Through the DSA revision, the association aims to enhance the quality of guides and promote professionalism in the services offered by the tour guides.
According to the founder of the Guides Association of Bhutan, the majority of the tour guides currently earn a DSA ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 per day depending on the nationality of tourists, the duration of the tour and the number of tourists.
Further, of about 4,000 guides in the country, almost 3,000 are freelancers who do not receive a monthly salary. And the current DSA is considered to be quite low.
“In the past, we used to have almost around 600-700 guides who were working permanently with the tour operators, which means they were getting paid a salary. But now, the guides only get paid DSA. We feel Nu 2,000 is too less for guides because now guides have to pay for their accommodation and meals, mostly with Indian tourists,” said Garab Dorji, the founder of the Guides Association of Bhutan.
He added that most of the guides have to spend about eighty per cent of the DSA on food and accommodation during the tour, leaving them with minimal savings.
“The idea is not to rip off tour operators. The reason for the standardisation is that if the guides are well-paid, they can work passionately and professionally and represent our country much better.”
In addition, the Guide Association of Bhutan and the department are focusing on enhancing skilling and re-skilling programmes to further improve their services.
The association also emphasised the importance of introducing a provident fund scheme for the guides.
Currently, there are over 1,800 licensed tour guides who have successfully passed the tourism department’s Tour Guide Readiness Assessment Test. The test plays a vital role in enhancing the capabilities and competence of the guides.
Edited by Sonam Pem
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