Tour guides in a class of their own

Students attend the tour guide training course. Photo: vietnamtourism.gov.vn “Charming oratory, flexible tours and the provision of exceptional information is real spice, making tour guides here a beguiling choice for tourists,” said Dutch visitor Jenny Mario after finishing a tour with guide Vo Phuc Sinh, 34. A typical working day for Sinh, who is called “Lord of the Soil and the Ground of Cham Islands” starts at 8am. When the first tourist groups from the mainland enter the port, he quickly supports them. They are attracted by his friendly, brisk and cheerful attitude. Nguyen Thanh Ba, a visitor from Hanoi, said jokes and humorous stories were combined with explanations of traditional customs of islanders. He said this brought a relaxing, close link between guides and tourists. “It is far better than having dogmatic guides who always stick to what they have been taught in the textbooks. So boring,” he said. At present, the tourist guides at Cham Islands has up to 30 members. They include former xe om drivers, boatmen and even housewives who have been trained at local tourist guide classes and issued with a certificate. Some guides are youngsters who left the islands, but returned to take up jobs as guides. The team cleverly combines guiding with reminding tourists on keeping the environment clean. No plastic bags are allowed on the islands, swimmers are not allowed to remove anything from the sea – and the sale of rare sea crabs is forbidden. Meanwhile, because many tourists love to… [Read full story]

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