SINGAPORE: The labour movement has moved to raise the industry standards of licensed tour guides. It is pushing to uphold the profession’s integrity and weed out illegal guiding.
The NTUC on Monday officially launched the Tour Guide Chapter, under the care of the Attractions, Resorts and Entertainment Union.
The chapter has over 300 members and hopes to attract more in the sector to join.
The chapter aims to be a voice for licensed guides, and to raise standards in the profession through development programmes.
It has engaged authorities to tackle issues like enforcement on errant guides, and non—payment of fees for services rendered.
Mona Alsagoff and her peers are Singapore’s frontline ambassadors.
The 60—year old freelance tour—guide’s been winning visitors’ hearts to the country for the past 25 years.
But work gets tough when errant travel agents don’t pay for a job well—done.
The labour movement said it typically hears cases of delayed or non—payments once or twice a month.
Mona and her friends are glad that the labour movement, through the Tour Guide Chapter, is speaking out for them.
Licensed tour guides in Singapore encounter a host of issues in their line of work. Besides contractual disputes with travel agents that occur from time—to—time, many are also not covered by the Work Injury Compensation Act."
The chapter is therefore pushing for coverage, on top of asking authorities to prosecute illegal guides tarnishing the profession’s image
Cham Hui Fong, who is the assistant secretary general at NTUC, said: "We are disappointed that despite alerting them (travel agents)... there were actually unlicensed guides and they (travel agents) actually let them carry on. At this point in time when we are speaking, unlicensed guides are still guiding."
Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said it takes a serious view of illegal guiding and has issued warnings and advisories to 38 parties on this matter.
Thus far, no one has been prosecuted.
STB also said it has taken pre—emptive action to address any potential rise in illegal guiding activity.
It has doubled the number of ground enforcement operations to about one spot check every other day.
In addition, STB also mounts large—scale intensive checks at key tourist spots.
Three such operations have been conducted since December 2011, with all the checks and operations yielding a total of 152 suspected cases of illegal guiding.
There are over 2,300 guides in Singapore, and the labour movement estimates that unlicensed guides number in the hundreds.
It also recommends that priority be given to locals for guiding assignments in English, Chinese, Malay or Tamil — Singapore’s vernacular languages.
There are close to a hundred foreign guides in the country.
More development courses for guides are also in the works to help raise the profession’s standards.
The chapter is also looking into ways to attract older Singaporeans to join the profession.
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