Police have arrested one Chinese and one Vietnamese national for illegally working as tour guides near the Ratchaprasong intersection, according to the Department of Employment (DoE).
Pairoj Chotikasathien, the DoE's director-general, said the Professional Tourist Guide Association of Thailand (PGAT) had lodged complaints earlier that their work has been disrupted by foreign tour guides who lack work permits in the kingdom.
Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin assigned the DoE to investigate. Officials from the DoE, Lumpini Police Station and Bangkok Employment Office 1 then pounced on Thursday at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Pathumwan district, said Mr Pairoj.
They arrested the two foreign guides who were leading their respective tour groups at the intersection. Officers later took them to Lumpini Police Station and charged them with working without a permit.
"A professional tour guide is a job reserved for Thais, so foreigners are not eligible to apply for a work permit to serve this role," said Mr Pairoj.
According to the Royal Decree on the Management of Alien Work, foreigners who work without a permit can face a fine of up to 50,000 baht fine and be deported. They will also be prohibited from applying for a work permit for two years.
On March 18, Paisarn Suethanuwong, a member of the PGAT, said that even though Thailand fully reopened for tourism on Oct 1, the demand for local tour guides has not risen significantly.
He said Chinese operators prefer hiring Chinese guides.
Many professional Thai guides struggled financially during the pandemic and are still facing difficulties despite the return of international tourists, Mr Paisarn said.
He said the government should do more to stop foreign nationals from illegally working in Thailand, and the association would submit an open letter to the prime minister and related agencies soon.