Monday, October 04, 2010
An article today in Korean goes over the growing need for Chinese-speaking guides in Korea for tourists from China, as their numbers are rapidly increasing but the number of interpreters is lagging behind. Here is the info from the article:
Visitors to Korea from China continue to increase every year, but insufficient interpretation is leading to fears of a drop in tourism quality for those visiting. According to a report issued today (4 October) last year the top visitors to Korea came from Japan at 3 million and China at 1.3 million. The number visiting from China is expected to be 1.7 million this year and reach 2.2 million in 2011. However, guides with certification in the Chinese language number just 2,818, which is just a third of those with certification in Japanese at 8,801 and half of those with certification in English, at 4,857.
(Note: the reason for the low English number is that people who speak English are easy to find and there is little need to get a special certification on top of all the other tests that are available)
The report also said that there are just 200 people currently working in Chinese interpretation in the tourist industry, which is a quarter of the 900 or so that are needed. There are an estimated 350 guides for Chinese tourists without qualifications.
(Note again: this also doesn't necessarily mean these people don't speak Chinese but it's more likely here. It's common to see Korean guides talking in English to tourists from China and elsewhere so the assumption that English alone is enough is prevalent)