The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is set to open new language schools in major provinces across the country in a bid to shore up the nation’s lack of skilled tour guides.

Tourism and Sports minister Somsak Pureesrisak said touristy cities including Chiang Mai and Pattaya are in need of guides who can conduct tours in a third language due to a big jump in tourist arrivals from China and Russia. Initially, the language schools will offer free courses to interested students.

The TAT is set to survey each area to determine language courses needed. The agency will proceed to propose a budget request for the project in the next ministry meeting.

Somsak also made known that Thailand attracts a large number of low-income visitors, with upscale tourists accounting for only 10 percent. If the country is to reach the government’s target for tourism revenue at 2 trillion THB in the next five years, the number of high-end visitors needs to increase by 20 percent, highlighting the need for additional tour guides and operators.-VNA