Demand escalates for tour guides with foreign-language skills

Updated: Jul 2, 2024 By CHENG SI China Daily Global Print
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A group of foreign tourists poses for a photo at the Palace Museum in Beijing, on April 25. CHINA DAILY

Tour guides who can speak foreign languages have become some of the most sought-after employees in China, as the inbound tourism market continues its rapid recovery.

"It feels like I've been working every day and have no time to take a short break," said Liu Yiling, a 31-year-old English-speaking tour guide in Beijing, who has worked in the tourism sector for six years.

"My friend in Shanghai, who is also an English-speaking tour guide and knows some French, has seen her daily pay surge to 1,500 yuan ($206) from around late April," he added.

In 2021, when the tourism industry was hard hit by the COVID-19 epidemic, Liu switched jobs from being a tour guide to a preschool teacher.

"My career had bleak prospects and I transferred to the education sector," he said. "But I still loved being a tour guide, because the human touch and person-to-person communication are really attractive to me. So I decided to return to the tourism industry in February."

The must-see Beijing attractions for foreign visitors are the cultural and historical highlights of the Palace Museum, the Great Wall, and the Summer Palace, he said.

"We tour guides are like multitaskers who are responsible for interpretation work, managing foreigners' accommodation and itineraries, and more importantly, explaining to them China's customs and culture," Liu said.

His current monthly pay is 15,000 to 20,000 yuan, and he is confident about the tourism market's performance this summer — the traditional peak season.

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