Tourists urged to use registered tour guides

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Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Source: BuaNews Online

By Edwin Tshivhidzo, tel: (012) 314-2454

Pretoria - The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism has called on tourists visiting South Africa to use the services of registered tour guides only.

Registered tour guides ar identifiable by the approved badges the displayed on their clothes.

A national pilot project aimed at curbing illegal tour guides in South Africa, was launched by the department on Friday. It will focus on increasing the registration, training and site inspections on businesses which take tourists on guided tours throughout the country.

A task team has also been established to ensure that all tour guides are legally registered and operating ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Deputy Director General Sindiswa Nhlumayo urged tour guides to first seek the relevant documentation at Home Affairs offices before opening their businesses.

"Tourist guides constitute a vital link between the tourists and our country's attraction sites. They serve as ambassadors of the tourism sector," said Ms Nhlumayo.

"We call upon all non-registered tour guides to register at all our provincial offices," she said, adding that regular inspections are to be conducted at identified tourism attractions and icons.

In South Africa tourist guiding activities are regulated by the Tourism Second Amendment Act, No.70 of 2000. According to the Act any person who wishes to be involved in the tourist guiding activity must be registered.

Illegal guides include those who are not properly trained, operating outside their jurisdiction and have failed to renew their tour guiding licenses.

Ms Nhlumayo cited training and development of tourist guides as an area with challenges relating to quality, standardisation and coherence in training.

She urged all partners in the tourism industry to assist by reporting all non-registered tour guides. Illegal tour guides faces fines ranging from R1000 to R10000.

According to Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA), illegal tourist guides hamper positive growth in the tourism industry.

Pule Malefane, Gauteng Tourism Authority's acting Chief Executive Officer highlighted that illegal guiding also takes a form of tour operators who venture into guiding without proper training and qualification in this specific area, thus depriving properly qualified and registered tourist guides of opportunities to earn income from their trade. - BuaNews

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