Tourism Bureau seeks SE Asian language speakers


TAIPEI — The Tourism Bureau on Thursday encouraged speakers of languages from Southeast Asia to consider a career in tourism, as Taiwan has seen a significant increase in visitors from the region in recent years.

Tour guides are in particularly high demand to show tourists around Taiwan in their native languages.

In 2012, Taiwan saw 668,285 visitors hailing from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, a sizeable increase from the 527,068 who visited from the same countries in 2010.

Even as the government works to promote tourism from that area, however, it is struggling with a shortage of licensed tour guides fluent in regional languages.

As of July 31, there were just 33 licensed tour guides who speak Thai, seven speaking Malay and only one speaking Vietnamese — nowhere near enough to meet market demand, the bureau said.

To help boost the number of qualified tour guides, the Tourist Guide Association will be holding training courses in Kaohsiung in September and Taipei in October for individuals fluent in one of the Southeast Asian languages.