International Tourist Guide Day celebrations 21 Feb 2011
International Tourist Guides Day, in South Africa, was held on the 21st February 2011. The venue was the well known landmark and tourist site, the Voortrekker Monument.
The Voortrekker Monument was built to commemorate the struggle the Dutch speaking farmers had against prejudges of the British Colonial government in the Cape. The farmers had to battle, not only against the government, but had to fight for survival against marauding tribes and some of the most difficult farming conditions experienced.
The Great Trek, as it was called, started in 1836. The farmers packed all their belongings on to ox wagons and with all their live stock, started to move northwards. With no roads and the ever presence of marauders and wild animals, these people were driven by the urge for independence and guided by the Holy Bible.
The Voortrekker Monument is on the southern side of Pretoria and overlooks the city centre and surrounding areas of Pretoria.
The celebration of the International Tourist Guides Day was started by cultural music and dance.
This was done to be in line with the World Federation’s theme for 2011, Culture- a Unifying Guide.
The opening address was done by Mr. Khehla Mthembu, Chair person of the Gauteng Tourism Authority. He addressed the issue of ‘Working towards Tourist Guides Service Excellence’ He placed emphasis on training and professional conduct at all times.
He urged the Federation of South African Tourist Guide Associations to enforce the Code of Conduct for tourist guides and never to stop accumulating knowledge.
The next speaker was part of the outreach programme as suggested for International Tourist Guides Day. Jabu Blose is a qualified and registered tourist guide, but deaf. He stressed the fact that being deaf is surely a hinderness, but that should not be a barrier to be a tourist and enjoy traveling. He used sign language and gave us an insight on how a deaf person experiences this Rainbow Country. There are at present 6 registered deaf tourist guides in South Africa.
The Chair person of the Federation of South African Tourist Guide Associations, Fanie Terblanche, addressed the visitors on ’the Vision and Role of Professionalising Tourist Guiding in the Southern African Development Countries’.
Contact has already been made with Namibia and Botswana. With Swaziland there is an existing work agreement in as far as training of South African Tourist Guides in Swaziland. Such a training session is envisaged for the middle of this year.
Fanie also gave a brief feedback on the attending of the World Convention in Estonia at the end of January 2011.
He highlighted that Illegal Guiding is a universal problem. It is even more so in Europe because there is no border control between the European Union countries.
The training of tourist guides were raised as a great concern. It is mainly because of the lack of standards and the enforcing thereof.
The Key note address was delivered by Me Bulelwa Seti. She is the Chief Director Capacity Development at the National Department of Tourism.
She referred to the resent research that was done on the Professionalsation of the Tourist Guiding Industry. This research proved many a short coming in the current act, the Tourism Amendment Act of 2000.
Aspects that need to be changed the registration fee and how it should be distributed, the importance of recognizing the role of the tourist guide and the ever present issue of illegal guiding.
There were more than 120 visitors from previously deprived communities. They were bused from Johannesburg and taken on a guided drive past tour of some of the sites in Pretoria. After a scrumptious meal, there were taken on a guided tour of the Voortrekker Monument and then returned home.
For the Tourist Guides, an educational was arranged on all the indigenous vegetation that can be found on the terrain of the Voortrekker Monument. The developments around the Voortrekker Monument and the addition of the Heritage Museum completed the educational.
The Tourist Guides were issued a Certificate of Attendance.
Pictures Edward Hung