Dear Members and colleagues
2019 is coming to an end and we realise in hindsight that it was not one of the greatest years in tourism for South Africa, as many of you can, I am sure, talk about the tours that have been cancelled, group sizes much smaller, and general spend of tourists a lot lower.
The Institute (IPTGSA) as all, also did not have the greatest of years with many of the changing of goalposts, the committee had to stop and re-position the organization to the benefit of all tourist guides.
Registered in 2015 the Institute pursued the task of seeking registration with the South African Qualifications Authority ( SAQA ) as a professional body and therewith laid the foundation of a solid policy-based organization to which all guides that want to could subscribe.
All the appropriate rules and policies were set up according to the SAQA Professional Body requirements. The application was eventually closed down as the Institute was not considered being a fully operational association with fee-paying members. The SAQA Act states “recognition of professional associations” meaning that the association should be fully established and running before an application may be made for recognition of professional body status.
2017 saw the Institute committee work very hard and have membership drives in some major centers of SA to recruit members ( of which you are one ) towards what then will be recognisable as the fully functional institute. The committee also started to promote educationals whereby members could earn Career Path Credits ‘CPD’s to prove an ongoing learning process.
2018 was the year of negotiations. A new national registrar of tourist guides, Mrs Bela Rampele became the new official person for the Institute to negotiate with. In an official letter from the national registrar, the committee was informed that the National Department of Tourism ( NDT ) was looking into setting up a professional body and have it legislated in the then-forthcoming tourism amendment bill. The changing of goalposts once again intruded into the committee’s planning as SAQA would not recognize a professional body if the National Department of Tourism was going to legislate such a body. The Institute then adopted a wait and see approach and did not collect any fees from its members as the course which to follow was unclear.
2019, the year of disasters that saw some well-established associations split up by clashes of personalities, unconstitutional illegal disbandment of associations, several different Facebook and WhatsApp groups came into being; then there was absolutely nothing in the NDT amendments to the tourism act out for discussion about tourist guiding.
The situation that prevails at present is a fragmented tourist guide fraternity which in general can’t stop complaining about the industry. Actually there are only a very few among us who are willing to lend constant active support to stand together and be the voice that can be heard.
Since 2005 a handful of guides have tried to get a national structure formed so that a national voice can be presented and represent the tourist guide in decision-making forums. Organizations are barely called upon unless, when the proverbial “hits the fan“ issues like
- Illegal guiding
- Cancellation of tours
- Low pay
- Insurances on Tourist guide activities
- Legal procedures
- Client recourse against guides
- Not adhering to code of conduct
2020 is a new year and the committee of the Institute has decided that looking back and complaining is not going to help the tourist guides and the future of our industry. Looking forward, some course corrections that take the changed goalposts into account have to be adopted and put into motion. The following is the outline of the way forward with the Institute.
The Institute is a fully functional and registered Non-Profit Company ( NPC ) and has all the policies and procedures already in place (as per requirements for a SAQA registered professional body). This is namely the following key must-haves:
- Constitution placing Tourist guides first.
- Code of conduct in line with the official NDT code of conduct.
- Disciplinary procedures.
- Public interest, accolades and complaints procedures.
- Continuous Professional Development (CPD) procedures and ongoing educationals for credits.
- Mentoring program for newly registered tourist guides.
- National communications network with members via web and social media.
The plan envisaged for 2020 is to follow a logical plan to try to address as many registered tourist guides in voice and print and hope that many become members of the institute. Boosted membership numbers effectively help the chosen tourist guide representatives become empowered to represent tourist guides effectively into the future.
The slogan “Guides for guides” must be uplifted so that tourist guides can be represented by registered tourist guides and not industry leaders.
The Institute, therefore, needs to do the following:
- Chatting to different tourist guide organizations throughout RSA / social media groups (Jan 2020)
- First educational and General meeting for guides in Gauteng (20 Jan 2020)
- Institute AGM (proposed date 3 Feb 2020)
- Finalize Memorandum Of Understanding ( MOU ) with NDT
- Organize annual International Tourist guide day 28 Feb 2020 in all major venues nationally.
- Exhibiting and promoting professional tourist guides at WTM 2020, (6-8 April 2020).
- Apply to SAQA for professional status once membership numbers are such as are acceptable to SAQA
The Institute has got the ball rolling to try and get the fragmented industry to start talking to one another (guides are good at talking) and endeavors to include as many guides as possible.
Due to a different tack, the committee has thought it good to only charge 50% membership fees, up and until full SAQA registration is achieved.
The process of becoming a professional member is not going to change as the policies are left unchanged.
The committee would like to request that you place your support for the Institute IPTGSA high on your agenda for 2020
Do have a great festive season and a great new year, and looking forward to seeing you at one of the roadshows.
Johan Van Biljon