Lack of tour guide support could be a ticking time bomb waiting to blow

Please find an attached soundbite by Manny de Freitas MP

Officials from the Department of Tourism this week confirmed it has little regard for the plight of tour guides during a meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committee on tourism.

It was revealed that most provinces have no proper record of registered tour guides with 6 provinces having nothing but a spreadsheet recording this information.

In all provinces, except the Western Cape, it takes months for a tour guide to obtain registration.

The registration of tour guides is vitally important should an incident occur with unregistered or unqualified tour guides where the potential for insurance and other claims may not be honoured. This could be another reason for tourists to be deterred from visiting South Africa.

No standardisation of databases exist, confirming that there are potentially a high number of unregistered and probably illegal tour guides across the country. It was confirmed to the Portfolio Committee that records are in shambles with duplications, information mismatches, incomplete and incorrect information having been identified.

At the meeting officials confirmed that:

  • Training programmes are provided without research as to what programmes are actually needed by tour guides and no measuring and monitoring mechanisms exist to ensure the success of these programmes.
  • There are no controls in place to manage the distribution of tour guide badges and access cards providing the opportunity for fraud and abuse. Presently there is no way to ascertain how deep this corruption is.

Tour guides serve as our unofficial ambassadors who are in many instances the first people that foreign tourists see when visiting our shores.

It is clear that the department does not treat tour guides with the prerequisite respect because the overwhelming majority of tour guides are self-employed and have no major unions behind them.

The DA will be submitting parliamentary questions go the Department of Tourism on the details about the formalisation of databases so that tour guides at least obtain the most basic support that any government should provide.