Turkish guides now do not have to speak a foreign language

Amendments to tourism laws have been adopted in Turkey, causing heated debate among professionals

Турецкие гиды теперь не должны владеть иностранным языком

The Turkish Parliament has adopted amendments to a number of laws regulating tourism activities.The draft law on amendments to the Law on the Profession of a Tourist Guide and the Law on Travel Agencies and the Association of Travel Agencies was adopted by the General Assembly of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.Turkish citizens will now be able to obtain a license and conduct excursions without having to take a foreign language proficiency exam – this is one of the innovations adopted on Thursday, April 18, amendments to the Law on the profession of a tourist guide. The changes have already been criticized by representatives of the professional community.According to the law, with the amendment of the Law on the Profession of a Tourist guide, an exam to determine foreign language proficiency when applying for admission to the profession will be conducted by ÖSYM. In languages that are not included in the ÖSYM exam calendar, exams can be conducted by expert and impartial institutions.Persons who meet all the conditions for admission to the profession will have the right to become a tourist guide in a foreign language, which they will pass at the entrance exam for the profession conducted by specialized state institutions and organizations at the request of the Ministry.Those who meet the conditions of admission to the profession, but cannot satisfy only the requirement of having a certificate of proficiency in a foreign language, will be eligible to become a regional or national Turkish tourist guide, depending on the training trip they attend, if they succeed in the profession. The entrance exam is conducted by specialized government agencies and organizations at the request of the Ministry.The law also regulated disciplinary penalties applied to tourist guides.At the same time, if this act is committed 2 times within 5 years, a temporary ban on practicing a profession will be imposed, and if the act is committed 3 times, punishment in the form of dismissal from the profession will be applied.The fee of a tourist guide will be determined and announced by the Ministry, provided that this profession is carried out in Turkish, and amount to at least 70 percent of the established base salary.Trips made by schools and institutions subordinate to the Ministry of Public Education for students accompanied by teachers and without commercial purposes will be excluded from the scope of regulation.The activities of guides in Turkey have been regulated by a special law since 2012. It clearly states who has the right to do this work, how and where to get a license, without which it is considered illegal to conduct excursions. At the same time, only citizens of this country can officially work with tour groups by law. It is not easy to get a license, you need to have a specialized education and have various courses in your luggage, as well as speak at least one of the foreign languages, including German, Chinese, Arabic, French, English and Russian – this is confirmed by the state examination commission.Birgul Akgul, head of the Turkish Committee for Sustainable Development of We Care All, questioned the principles on which the country’s hotel business has been built for decades. The proposals made to her in the Turkish media are radical: tens of millions of Turkish tourists are harmed, the construction of new hotels in Antalya should be stopped, the all-inclusive system should be radically modernized, if not canceled.Now this mandatory condition has been removed from the law. Those who do not have a certificate of knowledge of foreign languages can become tourist guides if they meet other professional requirements. It is also no longer necessary “to undergo a national or regional training program for tourist guides in languages determined taking into account the needs of the tourism sector, especially Chinese.””The exclusion of the requirement of a foreign language to enter the profession of a tourist guide will lead to incompetence and an increase in uneducated staff in this profession. How effectively does the unskilled tourism sector work where the language proficiency requirement has been abolished? How many high–income tourists can it attract to the country?” – Deputy from Izmir Seda Kaya Osen addressed colleagues during the discussion of the bill, but the majority did not hear her.The decision of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey has already attracted criticism from the professional community.”A tour guide without knowledge of a foreign language is comparable to a doctor practicing medicine without knowledge of anatomy,” said Sedat Bornoval, ex-head of the Istanbul Chamber of Guides. He believes that the amended law may have a negative impact on the entire Turkish tourism market, mainly focused on welcoming guests from abroad.In turn, Suat Tural, who until recently headed the Association of Turkish Guides, noted that the bill lobbies the interests of about 20-30 large companies working exclusively with local tourists. In his opinion, the current industry of sightseeing services in Turkey has a very high quality due to strict compliance with language requirements, and now they want to put an end to this.Among other innovations of the law, it is worth noting that now the presence of a guide in tourist buses has become a mandatory requirement for tour companies. The presence of a guide is also necessary for group visits to museums and archaeological sites.In addition, there are huge fines for guides working without a license. For this, they will be punished in the amount of 25 to 100 thousand liras (72-290 thousand rubles), taking into account the number of tourists served and the peculiarities of the region.Since the beginning of the two thousandth, Turkey has been leading among the most popular outbound tourism destinations in Russia. During this time, Turkish companies have developed technologies for receiving guests from our country, including training an army of Russian-speaking guides. Therefore, these changes are likely to have no effect on the quality of excursions for tourists from the Russian Federation. Only independent travelers who decide to use the services of local guides away from the main tourist locations can face problems.

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