Tour guides can easily be considered ambassadors of a country because their interactions with tourists often provide the first impressions. This can be a good or bad thing, as a great tour guide can make a trip easier, more carefree, and secure. However, in the eyes of a tourist, a dishonest tour guide can permanently taint the reputation of an entire country. Tourists entrust their security and faith in their tour guides, and expect them to make their safety and health a priority in a foreign land, while at the same time ensuring an enjoyable and worthwhile travel experience.
When people think of issues with tour guides, they mostly think of the issues that tourists have with tour guides. However, people do not realize that dishonest and deceitful tour guides are a problem to the people native to that country as well! At the Cooperative, the women are facing a serious issue with tour guides. They had explained to me the difficulties they had been having, but last week I actually had the opportunity to witness the problem in action.
So, last week two Serbian tourists came to the Women’s Cooperative with three Moroccan tour guides. The Serbians were interested in purchasing the products, and asked their tour guides to enquire about the prices. The tour guides spend a moment discussing the prices with the women, but when they went to translate the cost of the items, they doubled the price they were told! Because I speak both English and Arabic, I was lucky enough to understand every single word. In the end, the Serbians were pressured into purchasing a few well overpriced items, and the tour guides proceeded to take half of the money.
I immediately told Khadija what had happened. I described to her how the tour guides took advantage of the language barrier that exists on both ends of the transaction, and doubled the price. She wasn’t surprised, and explained to me that this has been happening for a long time, and it happens frequently. I asked Khadija why she doesn’t just tell the tourists the real price when tour guides try to raise them, and she said they had already tried doing that and it had not turned out well. Three years ago, one of the volunteers noticed a tour guide had incorrectly translated the price of an item to some tourists in order to make themselves money. The volunteer immediately corrected the tour guide and told the tourist the real price. The tour guide got angry and said he would no longer bring tourists to the Cooperative. As I have told you, selling these handmade items is the only way for the women of the cooperative to make money, and tourists are a very large part of their income. Khadija explained to me that as a result, we unfortunately cannot reveal the true price of the item if the tour guide wishes to increase it to make a profit. She told me that they have even tried placing the prices on their products, but when the tour guides saw them, they immediately removed them. If we say anything or attempt in any way to reveal the true price of the products to the tourists, the cooperative will lose customers.
Benan and I have come up with several ideas to help reduce, and hopefully eliminate, this problem. We decided that after every transaction, we will take down tourist’s contact information and send them an email about our problem with tour guides so that they are aware of it next time, and to make sure that they don’t think we agree with or allow tour guides to raise prices for profit. We will make sure to let them know that they are welcome to come again. Another idea we have is to make a price board and place it on a wall where it will be easily visible to tourists when they come in. The price board will contain the prices of the products, as well as the commission of the tour guides. Finally, we are working on creating a catalog of all the products offered, along with their prices. We hope to distribute this catalog on the Cooperative’s website to both attract customers, as well as make them aware of our prices ahead of hand. This will hopefully take the manipulating power out of the hands of the tour guides, so that the tourists can have a more enjoyable shopping experience.
Posted By Mohammed Alshubrumi
Posted Jul 13th, 2013