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How to Become a Tourist Guide

Tourist guides in South Africa are some of the most important people in the travel trade. They interact on a personal level daily with tourists, and a good tourist guide can make a holiday visit really memorable.  In this article, we investigate how to become a tourist guide in South Africa, what makes a good tourist guide, and how and where they find work.

Who is a Tourist Guide?
Any person who, for monetary or other rewards, accompanies people who are travelling through or visiting any place within a country, and who furnishes those people with information or comments concerning a place or objects visited is defined as Tourist Guide. Many tourist guides may also wish to run their own tour operations in which they are both tour guide and tour operator.

Categories of tourist guides

There are three categories of tourist guides:
Site Guides – these tourist guides have attained the minimum qualification in order to guide in a “limited geographical area” i.e. Hiking in the Drakensberg, visiting the Natal Battlefields,  taking a day tour of Cape Town, visiting Soweto;
Provincial Guides – are qualified to take tourists around an entire province i.e. Limpopo or Gauteng;
National Guides – are permitted to conduct tours around South Africa, crossing all provincial boundaries. These guides would accompany people taking a comprehensive tour of South Africa, say, by coach.

Classification of Tourist  Guides

Adventure Guides – conduct a guided adventure experience e.g. rock climbing, paddling, abseiling, etc.
Nature Guides – conduct a guided nature experience in areas such as  Game Reserves, National Parks, nature conservation areas, trails, and the like.
Cultural Guides – conduct a guided cultural experience in a limited geographical area such as a  museum, community, wine farm, town or city.

Qualifications

Qualifications for tourist guides are governed by the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

There are only two qualifications registered on the NQF:

  1. National Certificate in Tourism: Guiding (NQF2)
  2. National Certificate in Tourism: Guiding (NQF4)

Note that a new NQF 4 qualification has recently been registered and this replaces the 20155 qualifications.

Several unit standards, within the different areas of specialisation, have been clustered together to form skills programmes addressing areas of specialization, and aimed at persons wishing only to complete the specialized minimum area of learning required to guide.

These skills programmes are registered by CATHSSETA (The Culture Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority )for certification purposes. The applicable unit standards are registered on the NQF.  In order to register as a site guide specialising in culture, nature, or adventure guiding you need different combinations of unit standards.  These rules of combination can be accessed on the CATHSSETA website, at www.cathsseta.org.za.

To register as a provincial or national guide you need, as a minimum, qualification at NQF level 4 plus the required unit standard for your area of specialization – You can also view these on the CATHSSETA website as given above. Note that the requirements for guide registration, including what learning programme or course is needed for which category of guiding, is the competence of the Provincial Registrars of Tourist Guides.

Tourist Guiding Training and Assessors

All tourist guide trainers and assessors have to be accredited by CATHSSETA to be able to train according to the nationally recognized standards and qualifications network.

Assessors cannot issue certificates as they have to be working for/with an accredited training provider who will then issue certificates from CATHSSETA, upon completion of the assessment. The duration of the course, course content, dates and time of training, fee structure is determined by each training provider.

The guiding qualifications are made up of a collection of unit standards or building blocks. Each unit standard represents knowledge that a person must have, specific to his profession. These unit standards were devised in close consultation with tourist guides and other stakeholders. Each guide will be assessed against these standards.

Tourist guides are free to choose any training provider or assessor to work with. Details of accredited tourist guide training providers and assessors are available on the CATHSSETA website at www.cathsseta.org.za or can be obtained by calling their offices on 011 217 0600 or sending an email to info@cathsseta.org.za.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is the type of assessment used for those who have been working as unregistered guides in the past as it takes into account all the qualifications, work experiences, life skills etc. for a particular guide and fits these into the current NQF for guiding. The assessor may point out the areas/unit standards to which extra attention needs to be given. Once the tourist guide has completed this a meeting with the assessor will need to be arranged in order to complete the assessment.

The registration process

No tourist guide may work without being registered.

NB: CATHSSETA does not register tourist guides. CATHSSETA  gives accreditation to training providers so that they can train guides.

According to the Tourism Second Amendment Act no 70 of 2000, any person who wishes to be registered as a tourist guide shall apply to the relevant Provincial Registrar.

In order to be registered as a tourist guide in South Africa, a person must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • must be at least 21 years of age;
  • must be a South African citizen or be in possession of a valid work permit;
  • must have undergone training with a CATHSSETA-accredited training provider;
  • must be in possession of a valid first aid certificate from an institution accepted by the Department of Labour;
  • submit 4 passport size photos;
  • pay a registration fee of R240; and
  • must submit a completed and signed registration form and a code of conduct and ethics upon registration.

Proof of registration

The old SATOUR badges and ID cards became null and void on 31 May 2002. Registered tourist guides are now identified by new ID cards which all tourist guides are required to have in their possesstourist guides in south africa How to Become a Tourist Guide mar13 guiding 2 tourist guides sa 21ion whilst guiding. Official tourist guide badges must also be worn whilst guiding. The Provincial Registrar will issue badges and ID cards to new guides only once their application for registering as a tourist guide has been approved. The ID cards indicate the category of guiding, the regions for which the tourist guide was found competent to guide, as well as specialties that the guide might possess.  The ID cards are very important because the various policing authorities will request tourist guides to produce these during tourist guide spot checks conducted at various parts of South Africa to identify illegal/unregistered tourist guides.

Renewal of registration

Any person registered as a tourist guide, may before the end of the period for which he/she is registered, apply to the Provincial Registrar for renewal of his or her registration and his/her registration shall, upon submission of application forms and other documents and the payment of R240, be renewed. For a full list of Provincial Registrars refer to the table at the end of this article.

Non-compliance

Failure of a tourist guide to complete the NDT registration and CATHSSETA accreditation process but continuing to guide will result in that tourist guide being liable for prosecution. Fines of up to R1 000 can be imposed on illegal guides. Operators found to be using illegal guides can be fined amounts up to R10 000. The process for lodging complaints about unregistered/illegal guides as well as registered/legal guides is outlined in the Second Tourism Amendment Act, 2000. Copies of these can be obtained from NDT offices or from any of the Provincial Registrars’ offices.

Tourist Guide Code of Ethics

A Professional Tourist Guide must conform to the Tourist Guide Code of Ethics. The code states that a guide:

  • Shall be welcoming and demonstrate an enthusiasm for South Africa.
  • Shall at all times show a willingness to provide optimum support and quality service to all tourists, and will give tourists an opportunity to enjoy or visit the desired destination.
  • Shall in no way discriminate in rendering service to any tourist on any basis, e.g. race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, physical challenge, age, etc.
  • Shall be impartial, unbiased and positive, and represent South Africa objectively.
  • Shall be suitably dressed and presentable at all times.
  • Shall be punctual, reliable, honest, conscientious and tactful at all times.
  • Shall be a responsible driver, when driving as a guide.
  • Shall carry out the programme/itinerary of a tour to his/her best abilities and be loyal to the company/organization that he/she is representing.
  • Shall deal with conflict in a sensitive and responsible manner.
  • Shall report any incident of injury or death to a nearby tourist authority or police station.
  • Shall be knowledgeable and shall assist tourists and not provide them with misleading information.
  • Shall in the event of not being familiar with, or being unable to provide information requested by a tourist, consult with the appropriate authorities for assistance.
  • Shall at no time be under the influence of alcohol or a narcotic substance while on duty and shall refrain from administering any medication to a client without proper medical consultation.
  • Shall never solicit for clients or gratuities.
  • Shall be concerned at all times for the safety of the tourist.
  • Shall wear the appropriate tourist guide badge and will carry his/her registration card.
  • Shall treat all people, cultures and the environment with respect.

International Declaration for Tourist Guides Around the World

At the World Federation of Tourist Guides Association 15th International Tourist Guide Convention, held recently in Macau, China,  the  2013 Macau International Declaration for Tourist Guides Around the World was signed.

tourist guides in south africa How to Become a Tourist Guide mar13 guiding 2 tourist guides sa 3

GUIDE ASSOCIATION LINKS:

Cape Tourist Guides Association
www.ctga.org.za

Field Guides Association of Southern Africa
www.fgasa.co.za

Gauteng Guides Association
www.guidessa.org

KwaZulu-Natal Tourist Guides’ Association
www.zulu.org.za/index.php?tourist_guides

Nelson Mandela Bay Tourist Guide Association
www.highwinds.co.za/page.php?pageid=113

Off-Road Guides and Tour Operators of South Africa
www.fsatga.org/?q=node/17

Provincial Tourist Guides Association of KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields Region
www.battlefieldsregionguides.co.za

Conclusion

Tourist guides are the ambassadors of South Africa’s tourism industry. They are often the first, and invariably the last, person that tourists come into contact with and are therefore responsible for creating lasting impressions and fond memories of the country.

This being the case, are tourist guides remunerated in accordance with their importance in the tourism value chain? Many tourist guides say that they are not, but some Tour Operators argue that a tourist guide’s remuneration should be in proportion to his or her experience, qualifications and aptitude.

List of South African Provincial Registrars’ Contact Details

1. Limpopo
Depart of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism
Registrar: Moses Ngobeni
Tel: (015) 293 8510
Cell: 082 800 2666
Fax: (015) 291 1085
Postal: P/BAG X 9486, POLOKWANE, 0700
Email: NgobeniM@ledet.gov.za

2. Mpumalanga
Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency
Registrar: Musa Mahlangu
Tel: (013) 759 5328
Fax: 086 603 6766
Postal: P/BAG X 11338, NELSPRUIT, 1200
Email: Musa@mtpa.co.za 

3. Gauteng
Gauteng Tourism Authority
Registrar: Mpho Moeti
Tel:(011) 085 2101
Cell: 082 803 1124
Fax: 086 609 3941
Postal: P.O. BOX 155
Email: mpho@gauteng.net

4. KwaZulu-Natal
Department of Economic Development and Tourism
Registrar: Peggy Dlamini
Tel: (033) 264 9324
Cell: 082 952 7575
Fax: (033) 264 9316
Physical Address: 217 Burger Street, Calder Street, PMB, 3201
Email: dlaminipe@kznded.gov.za

5. North West
Department of Economic Development and Tourism
Registrar: Bella Gumede
Tel: (018) 387 7883
Cell: 082 674 1788
Fax: (018) 387 7886
Postal: P/BAG X 15, MMABATHO,2735
Email: bgumede@nwpg.gov.za 

6. Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape Tourism Board
Registrar: Thembeka Mbanga
Tel: (043) 701 9645
Cell: 082 771 3462
Fax: (043) 701 9600
Postal: P.O. BOX 18373, QUIGNEY, 5211
Email: thembeka@ectourism.co.za

7. Western Cape
Department of Economic Development and Tourism
Registrar: Leigh Pollio (Acting)
Tel: (021) 483 9130
Fax: (021) 483 8754
Postal: P.O. BOX 979, CAPE TOWN, 8000
Email: registrar@pgwc.gov.za

8. Northern Cape
Department of Tourism, Environment and Conservation
Registrar: Andries Mokgele
Tel: (053) 830 4875
Cell: 084 689 7251
Fax: (053) 830 4889
Postal: P/BAG X 6102, KIMBERLEY,8300
Email: amokgele@ncpg.gov.za

9. Free State
Department of Tourism, Environmental and Economic Affairs
Registrar: Mfundo Ngcangca (Acting)
Tel: (051) 400 9598
Cell: 082 773 8275
Fax: (051) 400 9590
Postal: P/BAG X 20801, BLOEMFONTEIN, 9300
Email: Mfundo@detea.fs.gov.za

10. National National Department of Tourism
Postal: P/BAG X424, PRETORIA, 0001
National Registrar: Victor Tharage
Tel: (012) 444 6478
Email: vtharage@tourism.gov.za

Director – Tourist Guiding: Uveshnee Pillay
Tel: (012) 444 6386
Email: upillay@tourism.gov.za

Information compiled with acknowledgment to Adventure Qualifications Network – www.adventurequalifications.wordpress.com and the South African Department of Tourism – Tourist Guiding.

 

 

13 comments

  1. Very good comprehensive article , only one mistake , a Tourist Guide need not be 21 to register as a tourist guide,No where in the ACT is the age stipulated.
    But for a Tourist guide to be a driver-guide one needs a PrDP and by Department of transport Law one has to be 21 years of age.

  2. Well spotted Johan thanks for making the correction, Thank you Tattler, this is a very good and comprehensive article, and it is also timeous. Perhaps the Editor would consider re running this exact article in a few months time as a comparison to clarify the issues that will be outdated due to the Tourism Bill which has just completed its final round of public participation and which will amend many of the issues and parameters that have been stated in this article.

  3. Starting to get hard to be positive with the roads in such poor condition. Try driving to Numbi gate from White River with tourists and be positive.

  4. Hello,

    I am looking for service providers who are running NQF certified river training.

    Please will you send me the necessary information.

    Thank you,
    Stephanie

  5. After many years work – the Generic Adventure Guides program through AQN has been approved by CATHSSETA for training, assessment & RPL. Now there is no excuse for adventure guides not to comply with the act.

    See:
    http://adventurequalifications.wordpress.com/new-generic-adventure-guide/

    for details

  6. I have completed a level 1 field guide course. Why is it so difficult to get work? And so expensive to continue studying. Is there a learnership/ apprenticeship programme for us that cannot afford the fees, but are passionate about getting into this field of work?

  7. Hi we are looking for Tourist Guiding Trainers and Assessors. If you are interested please call ProServ SA for details on 011 700 0400 and ask for Sarah.

  8. My name is Junior from Krugersdorp in South Africa. I’m studying Tourism at WESTCOL FET. I’m asking if you offer learnership. I love tourism and wish to persue my dream as a provincial tour guide. My contact numbers are: +27 (0)76 378 7845 / (0)79 853 9615. Thank you.

  9. Any idea where to find proof, ie written legislation stipulating the proclaimed limitation of 8 or 9 passengers a tourist guide may drive?

    • Desmond Langkilde
      Desmond Langkilde

      Hi Peter

      The answer to your question can be found in the Tourism Second Amendment Act, 2000 (as published in the Government Gazette – 13 December 2000 – Page 12 – No.21886 – section 21H), wherein it states:

      21H. (4) No tourist guide may drive a vehicle with a carrying capacity of more than 10 persons and at the same time act as a tourist guide.
      21H. (5) No person, company or close corporation employing a tourist guide
      may allow that tourist guide to drive a vehicle in contravention of
      subsection (4).

  10. Thank you for the informative article. I have a question regarding some rumers that I have heard by people that I know In the Industry. They say that the requirements to qualify for a guide badge are changing from next year. Instead of a bout a 6 week course followed by an assesment, it will become much harder and more expensive with the course being anything from 6 months upto a year! Is this true or is it just talk? I would like to become a guide in cape town soon and would also like to look at doing overlands up country, should I head the rumuors and rush to do a course now before the new legislation kicks in even though I cant afford it right now and I dont have the time? I hope some one can give me some kind of clarity on this issue. Henry.