Posted June. 18, 2010 22:14,
The Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry will require all tourism agencies to hire certified tour guides from September, a move that experts warn could lead to huge confusion.
Before 1999, only those with certificates could serve as tour guides to Chinese visitors under tourism promotion law, a regulation that disappeared under the Kim Dae-jung administration. With problems growing due to unqualified tour guides for Chinese tourists over the past 10 years, however, the ministry revised the law last year.
The revised law took effect Sept. 26 last year, but strict imposition could lead to the collapse of numerous tour agencies since the number of certified guides has nearly disappeared over the past 10 years.
To deal with this situation, the Culture Ministry issued temporary one-year certificates to 328 guides but the certificates will expire within three months.
An official at the Korea Tourism Organization said, If the government fails to devise supplementary measures by Sept. 25 and begins enforcing the law, the country will not attract Chinese tourists due to lack of tour guides.
The ministry has yet to present a clear solution. As a short-term measure, it is considering lowering the difficulty of the Korean history section, which test takers find the most difficult, in the tour guide exam slated for September.
Critics, however, ask how can the ministry make the questions easier when they are said to be "so easy that even elementary and middle school students can solve them.
In addition, the ministry is mulling writing the questions for the Korean history and tourism law sections in Chinese. This has also invited fears of undermining the exam`s purpose of securing tour guides with a good understanding of Korea.