With more national tourism monitors being appointed to also serve as safety monitors, tourist guides feel some of the lines are being blurred and are seeking clarity on roles.
This was highlighted by a number of guides at the two-day International Tourist Guides’ Day held at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg from March 12-13.
The National Tourism Monitors Programme was launched in late 2017 by the Department of Tourism in partnership with the Gauteng Tourism Authority. Successful candidates of this programme were trained, mentored and placed as monitors at various Gauteng tourist sites for a 36-month period.
Busiswe Mahlabe, a tourist guide from Mandela House Museum in Soweto, explained to Tourism Update on the side lines of the event that she believed tourism monitors were not sticking to their job requirements.
“I’ve observed that tourism monitors are not always at their designated tourist site, as they have accompanied tourists to the next site which, in our case, is usually the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum,” said Mahlabe.
She said she had noted how some tourism monitors had expressed an interest in becoming registered tourists guides. “There’s nothing wrong with their interest in becoming tourist guides, but it means that the focus on what they were employed to do is no longer there.”
She added that she expected the government to deploy security personnel to deal with issues of safety and security. “These monitors are quite young and they have been given a very big responsibility and I’m not sure if they are equipped to deal with these criminal challenges,” said Mahlabe.
“There isn’t much collaboration between the tourism monitors and the police. They liaise more with their co-ordinator who seldom comes to the area,” said Mahlabe. “I cannot say I have seen a real difference in the area since the tourism monitor programme was implemented.”
Colonel Malose Marakalla from the South African Police Service said the SAPS had entered into a partnership with the Department of Tourism to deal with issues of safety and security. “We are developing a training manual for tourist guides and tourism monitors,” said Marakalla.