Playa del Carmen, Q.R. – A busy winter tourist season has left the local tour guide industry with an oversaturation of illegal guides.
Luis Felipe Salazar Peña, general secretary for the Union of Tourist Guides, says that the arrival of tourists combined with the continually emerging industry, has not only seen local tour guides operating at 100 percent, but has also seen a market saturation of about 300 irregular tour guides.
“The holiday season we had was very good. Our guides operated at 100 percent. In the union we have 180 partners which usually means we have tours at least five days a week, but in December, we only had six or seven all week,” he explained in regard to the oversaturation of tour guides.
Salazar Peña says that all tour guides are CROC union members and are certified with INAH and the Secretary of Tourism.
“Unfortunately there are internal issues as colleagues try to solve the problem, but the problem is the pirating by those who are entering the practice without being certified and recognized by local organizations.” He adds that “There are about 300 now during offseason that generate unfair competition.”
Another issue, he says, is that the problem is compounded because travel agents hire those who provide the best estimates. For example, a tour in English could reach up to 2,000 peso for a group of 10 or more people, but the irregular guides are doing it for less than half the price.
He says that during the months of December and early January, approximately 70 percent of tours are given in English. Other requested tour group languages include French, German and Italian, however, other international languages such as Portuguese, Russian and Chinese are also growing in demand, especially over the past two years.
Resentment among the certified regular guides and the irregular guides has grown in recent years.