Second reading: STB Amendement Bill
Parliament has passed the Singapore Tourism Board (Amendement ) Bill.
Last reviewed almost 30 years ago, the amended bill will tackle unlicensed guiding more effectively, raise the standards of guiding and accommodate new guiding models.
In the second reading of the bill, Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran says the amendments will enhance powers of investigation and enforcement against unlicensed guiding.
"Unlicensed guiding tarnishes the image, and impedes the professional development, of the industry and licensed tourists guides. It has become more apparent in recent years with the rapid growth in visitor arrivals."
The penalty framework has also been enhanced to deter offenders.
Mr Iswaran adds that more needs to be done to raise the professionalism of licensed guides.
And that's why they're empowering the STB to issue codes of practice.
On top of that, his ministry will incentivise licensed guides to upgrade themselves, by allowing the STB to tier licensing categories according to their capabilities.
In addition, Member of Parliament Ang Hin Kee suggested that the STB consider setting up a mediation centre for guides in need.
And in response, Mr Iswaran asked STB to consult NTUC and the Society of Tourists Guides to weigh the feasibility of this option.
Mr Ang also questioned the narrow definition of a tourist, which limits the business of tourist guides.
He feels that it should be activity-centric, rather than person-centric.
In his reply, Mr Iswaran stresses that such a definition is consistent with international practice, and it includes foreigners on a social visit pass.
He adds that the task force is studying ways to make tourist guide training more accessible to interest parties.
"The task force is also looking at how training can be made more modular and reviewing the training delivery modes to give trainees greater flexibility in acquiring training. Finally, STB will engage industry associations to help them better appreciate industry trends and to support capability developments initiatives."
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