Cape tourism to clean up act

03 May 2013 - 02:40 By QUINTON MTYALA
Table Mountain
Table Mountain
Image: ©David Ryznar

The Western Cape government is reining in dodgy tour guides, blaming them for giving tourist attractions a bad name.

Western Cape tourism MEC Alan Winde said yesterday a recent survey by his department found that 187 out of 1100 tour guides operating in Cape Town were not registered.

Now he will use the Tourism Act, which stipulates minimum requirements for tour guides, to weed out the fly-by-night operators, who often gave tourists wrong information about popular attractions.

"If people have bad experiences, we suffer brand damage," said Winde.

To police dodgy tour guides, Winde said he would employ a full-time tour guide registrar.

The penalty for non-registration would be a fine of up to R10000.

Khonaye Tuswa, a registered tour guide based in Langa, who has been in the industry for 10 years, said those who often chanced their luck were metered taxi drivers.

"Sometimes tourists are unaware that the person driving them is not informed, and they only want a good price," he said.

These tourists, he said, returned to their home countries, and, after a bad experience, would vent on websites like Tripadvisor about the poor service they had received.

"They'll take you to the biggest attractions in Cape Town and give you misinformation. It effectively jeopardises the standard of guiding in South Africa," said Tuswa.

CEO of the Cape Tour Guides Association Aluschka Ritchie said the extent of the problem was not known because a full audit had yet to be conducted.

She said SanParks policed its entry points to ensure that only registered tour guides accompanied visitors on trips to national parks.

"Then there are spot checks that are done by inspectors. However, there are several other ways that are being investigated that will be far more effective in the future," said Ritchie.