What is a Tourist Guide ?

National Department of Tourism WHAT IS A TOURIST GUIDE?

At the National Department of Tourism we measure success not only in the visitor numbers, but in the experiences we create, the new opportunities for meaningful employment and growth and the understanding that is fostered between people from different backgrounds and different corners of the world and our tourist guides play an integral role in this.​

Tourist Guides are often one of the first people to welcome tourists and the last to bid them farewell. Their role is to enhance our visitors' experience and be ambassadors for South Africa as a tourist destination.

Definition of Tourist Guide

Tourist Guides act as ambassadors of the country, they are the first to meet and welcome tourists and they are often the last ones to bid farewell to them when they leave the country. ​

Various international organizations such as the World Federation of Tourist Guides Associations (WFTGA) define a tourist guide as the person who guides visitors in the language of their choice and interprets the cultural and natural heritage of​ an area, which person may possess an area specific qualification. Such specifications are usually issued and/or recognized by the appropriate authority.

A tourist guide is someone who points out the way and leads others on a trip or tour. Generally, a tourist guide will work at a specific location, city or province. In some cases, guides qualify to guide throughout an entire country.

According to the Tourism Act No. 3 of 2014, Tourist guide means any person registered as such under section 50 and who for reward accompanies any person who travels within or visits any place within the Republic and who furnishes such person with information or comments.

Importance of Tourist Guides

Tourist guiding is a very critical component of the tourism value chain. They play an essential role in ensuring repeat tourist visitation to South Africa through creating a positive image of our country.

In South Africa, tourist guiding is a regulated profession governed by national legislation and policies. Any person that would like to become a tourist guide must undergo training as part of a formal qualification registered by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), Upon being deemed competent, such person will receive a certificate issued by the Culture, Arts,​ Tourism Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA), Such person must then apply to the relevant Provincial Registrar to be registered in order to operate legally. This process unfolds as prescribed in the Tourism Act, 2014 and the Regulations in respect of Tourist Guides, 1994 and 2001 respectively.

Characteristics of Tourist Guides

The role and function of a guide is to organise, inform and entertain. Guides are mainly freelance and self-employed. Work is often seasonal and​ may involve working during unsociable hours. Work is usually obtained through direct contact with tour operators and other agencies and therefore, guides must be self-sufficient and be able to market themselves.

The manner in which tourist guides interact and treat tourists is very important because it gives a lasting impression about the country in general. The Code of Conduct and Ethics that tourist guides signs prescribes the way in which qualified, legally registered tourist guides must conduct themselves whilst on duty. Registered tourist guides who fail to abide by the Code of Conduct and Ethics could be subjected to formal disciplinary hearings and be charged with ​misconduct.


In South Africa tourist guiding is a regulated sector governed by national legislation and policies. Any person who wishes to become a tourist guide must undergo training as part of a formal qualification registered by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

When they are deemed competent, they are awarded a certificate issued by the Culture, Arts, Tourism Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) or through an Institution of Higher Learning that offers tourist guiding programmes recognized by SAQA. Then they apply to the relevant Provincial Registrar to be registered as a tourist guide.

There are three main prescripts that govern the Tourist Guiding sector and they are:

  • Tourism​ Act no. 3 of 2014.
  • Regulations or Tourist Guides, 1994 and2001 respectively.
  • The Code of Conduct and Ethics

The Act defines the scope of tourist guiding and provides a framework for the conduct and governance of the tourist guiding profession. The Act, therefore, makes provision for:

the establishment of the office of the National Registrar and Provincial Registrars of Tourist Guides with clearly defined roles and responsibilities;
the development of a Code of Conduct​ and Ethics for tourist guides;
and a framework and procedures for complaints, discipline, appeals and reviews, prohibitions, and disputes.
Individuals considering pursuing a career in tourist guiding must first complete the training and assessment process with a Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education Training Authority (CATHSSETA)-accredited training provider, and then register with the relevant Provincial Registrar.

This Act came into effect on 7 April 2014. Chapter 6 of the Act deals with the following matters relating to tourist guiding.

The roles and responsibilities of the National Registrar and Provincial Registrars.
The procedure relating to registration of tourist guides 
The procedure relating to complaints, disciplinary measures, prohibitions, disputes appeals, and reviews.

Regulations in respect of tourist guiding 2001

The Regulations explains and elaborates on matters prescribed by the Act by setting out: a procedure to be followed when registering tourist guides and drafting the Code of Conduct and Ethics. The Regulations also includes endorsements and suspension procedures and provides details of the fines to be levied for non-compliance and the procedures for appeals to be lodged.

The code of conduct and ethics

This code outlines the way in which qualified, legally registered guides must conduct themselves.

It requires tourist guides to:

take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of a tourist whom they are accompanying; and
render services that comply with any norms and standards.


Tourist guides must be trained by accredited training providers for their application for registration to be considered. Tourist guides are responsible for verifying the registration status of the training providers before the commencement of training.​

A full list of accredited training providers and assessors can be obtained on the Culture Arts, Tourism, Hospitality, and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) website www.cathsseta.org . ​Information about tourist guiding programs which are recognised by SAQA can be obtained from the SAQA website www.sa​qa.org.za. Alternatively, inquiries can be made at the Tourist Guides Registration Offices across Provinces.

List of accredited training providers

Requirements to Register to become a Tourist GuideRegistration Badge

Provincial Registrars are appointed in each of the nine provinces to register tourist guides. In order to be registered as a tourist guide in

South Africa, a person must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • be a South African citizen or be in possession of a valid work permit;
  • must have undergone training with a CATHSSETA-accredited training provider or any other accredited institution which offers programs recognized by SAQA;
  • be in possession of a valid first-aid certificate from an institution recognized by the Department of Labour;
  • pay a registration fee of R240 (Renewable every 3 years)
  • submit 4 passport-size photos;
  • must submit a completed and signed registration form and the code of conduct and ethics upon registration.

​​​​​Tourist Guide Registrars

The National Registrar of Tourist Guides, in conjunction with the Provincial Registrars, facilitates maintenance of the Central Tourist Guides Register as well as the registration of Tourist Guides at the provincial level.

Definition of Professional: "Person formally certified
by a registered professional body of belonging to a specific profession
by  virtue of having completed a required course of studies 
and/or practice. And whose competence can usually be measured
 by an established set of standards."

Membership to the Institute of Professional Tourist Guides Southern Africa (IPTGSA)

Membership to the Institute of Professional Tourist Guides Southern Africa (IPTGSA) is a professional designation to strive to with hard work and dedication. Professional status is not just handed to a certain few, but earned by any tourist guide that has made guiding his/her profession.

Membership Categories

  • Aspirant Membership An Aspirant Member complies with most application criteria save for time-related experience. The membership fee is 50% of Full membership.
  • Professional Membership. Any registered Tourist Guide complying with application requirements.
  • Honorary Membership. The EXCO may grant Honorary Membership to any person or organisation who, in its opinion, has contributed significantly to furthering the objects of the Institute or have been a continuous full member for 10 years.

Membership will be annually and run from the first date when registration was issued.
Renewal requires to be done before the expiry date as a break in continuity, for more than 3 months, will constitute a resignation and full application will be required for re-registration.

Tourist Guide Code of Ethics

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

  • A Professional Tourist Guide SHALL:
  • uphold the principles of the South African Constitution, especially chapters one and two.
  • embrace and uphold the principles of The Institute of Professional Tourist Guides of Southern Africa
  • 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.
  • in no way discriminate in rendering service to any tourist on any basis, e.g. colour, gender, ethnicity, nationality, physical challenge, age, etc.
  • be impartial, unbiased and positive, and represent South Africa objectively.
  • be suitably dressed and presentable at all times.
  • be punctual, reliable, honest, conscientious, and tactful at all times.
  • be a responsible driver, when driving as a guide.
  • carry out the program/itinerary of a tour to his / her best abilities and be loyal to the company/organisation that he/she is representing.
  • deal with conflict in a sensitive and responsible manner.
  • report any incident of injury or death to a nearby tourist authority or a police station.
  • be knowledgeable and shall assist tourists and not provide them with misleading information.
  • in the event of not being familiar with, or being unable to provide the information requested by a tourist, consult with the appropriate authorities for assistance.
  • 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.
  • never solicit for clients or gratuities.
  • be concerned at all times for the safety of the tourist.
  • wear the appropriate tourist guide badge and will carry his/her registration card.
  • treat all people, cultures, and the environment with respect.


What is a Tourist Guide?WFTGA

EN 13809 2003/ ENISO 18513 2003
Adopted by World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations: 10th International Convention: Dunblane, United Kingdom 2003

Tourist Guide:
A person who guides visitors in the language of their choice and interprets the cultural and natural heritage of an area in which a person normally possesses an area-specific qualification usually issued and/or recognised by the appropriate authority.

This is distinct from a tour manager defined by CEN as follows:

Tour Manager/Tour Director or Escort:
A Person who manages an itinerary on behalf of the tour operator ensuring the program is carried out as described in the tour operator's literature and sold to the traveler/consumer and who gives local practical information.

Note: Tour managers may or may not be tourist guides as well. They are not trained or licensed to work in specific areas unless they have the proper requirements or legal rights, depending on the region. 



The Institute for Professional Tourist Guides of Southern Africa

Cape Tourist Guides Association

Field Guides Association of Southern Africa

Gauteng Guides Association

KwaZulu-Natal Tourist Guides’ Association

Provincial Tourist Guides Association of KwaZulu Natal Battlefields Region

KwaZulu Natal Tourist Guides Association-eThekwini 

Vredefort Dome Tourist Guides Association

Trail and Hiking Association of South Africa

Durban Tourist Guides Association

National Federation of Tourist Guides and Affiliates of South Africa 


Information compiled with acknowledgement to 
Adventure Qualifications Network – 
and the South African Department of Tourism – 
Tourist Guiding

Tourist Guide Registrars

The National Registrar of Tourist Guides, in conjunction with the Provincial Registrars, facilitates maintenance of the Central Tourist Guides Register as well as the registration of Tourist Guides at the provincial level. In this section, browsers will be able to access the contact details of the National and Provincial Registers.​​​


  • National: National Department of Tourism
    Registrar: Ms. Morongoe Ramphele
    Telephone: (012) 444 6552
    Fax: (012) 444 7090
    Address: Private Bag X 424,Pretoria,0001
    Email: [email protected]


  • Eastern Cape: Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency
    Registrar: Mr. Mbulelo Siyo
    Telephone: (043) 364 2570
    Fax: (043) 701 9642
    Address: P.O. Box 18373, Quigney, 5211
    Email: [email protected]
  • Freestate: Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs
    Registrar: Mr. Mfundo Ngcangca (Acting)
    Telephone: (051) 400 9598
    Fax: (051) 400 9590

    Address: Private Bag X 20801, Bloemfontein,9300
    Email:  [email protected]

  • Gauteng: Gauteng Tourism Authority
    Registrar: Mr. Mbuyi Kona
    Telephone: (011) 085 2101
    Fax: 086 609 3941

    Address: P.O. Box 155, Newtown, 21003
    Email: [email protected]
    [email protected]

  • Kwazulu-Natal: Department of Economic Development and Tourism
    Registrar: Ms. Peggy Dlamini
    Telephone: (033) 264 9324/(033) 264 9323
    Fax: (033) 264 9300

    Address: 217 Burger Street, Calder Street, Pietermaritzburg, 3201
    Email: [email protected]
    [email protected] or
    [email protected] or [email protected]

  • Limpopo: Department of Economic Development, Environment, and Tourism
    Registrar: Mr. Moses Ngobeni
    Telephone: (015) 293 8510
    Fax: (015) 291 1085
    Address: Private Bag X 9486, Polokwane, 0700
    Email: [email protected]
  • Mpumalanga: Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency
    Registrar: Musa Mahlangu 
    Telephone: (013) 759 5487
    Fax: (086) 603 6766

    Address: Private Bag X 11338, Nelspruit,1200
    Email: [email protected]
    [email protected] or [email protected]

  • North West: Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism
    Registrar: Adv Makinde
    Telephone: (018) 387 7883/(018) 387 7801
    Fax: (018) 387 7886/(018) 387 7924

    Address: Private Bag X 15, Mmabatho,2735
    Email: [email protected]
    [email protected]

  • Northern Cape: Department of Economic Development and Tourism
    Registrar: Mr. Andries Mokgele
    Telephone: (053) 830 4875/(053) 830 4881
    Fax: (053) 831 3530
    Address: Private Bag X 6102, Kimberly, 8300
    Email: [email protected]
  • Western Cape: Department of Economic Development and Tourism
    Registrar: Mrs Hantie Nelson 
    Telephone:  (021) 483-9442/ 9008 / 2960

    Address: Ground Floor, Waldorf Building, 80 St Georges Mall, Cape Town
    Email: [email protected]westerncape.gov.za