VIENTIANE, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Lao authorities have urged foreign tour operators to hire local tour guides otherwise they will be fined.
The authorities also warned that foreign tour operators must partner with local counterparts in arranging package tour programs in Laos; if not, they will face punishment, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Friday.
The warning came after a report emerged that some foreign tour operators brought in tour groups without cooperating with local tour operators, which violates relevant regulations, said the daily.
Some foreign operators were found purchasing just two or three-day packages from local tour operators, but their stays were actually longer than the specified package.
"They (the foreign tour operators) organized tours for the rest of their stay themselves," Deputy Director General of the Tourism Management Department Xaysombath Bounnaphon told the daily.
Vice President of the Lao Association of Travel Agents, Saleum Khamphengvong said Laos was suffering from a shortage of tour guides capable of speaking languages including Chinese and Korean, therefore tour operators had to employ foreign tour guides.
"To some extent, it is our problem that we cannot provide tour guides capable of speaking the languages of particular countries," he said.
Laos has targeted high-end tourists from many countries including China, Europe, Japan and South Korea.
To attract more high-end tourists, especially from China and maximize the benefits, Lao Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Bosengkham Vongdara told the National Assembly recently that Laos needs to devise a comprehensive tourism marketing plan.