Reassessing Occupational Licensing Of Tour Guides
Authors: Amir SHANI
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It is conventionally held that to protect tourists from incompetent and/or unscrupulous tour guides, governments should require guides to be licensed in order to legally practice their profession. Despite the implementation of such regulatory statutes in many countries, it is argued in this opinion paper that the severe drawbacks of licensing demands should be re-evaluated by both policy-makers and tourism scholars. The licensing of guides is not only an ineffective means of quality assurance, with negative consequences for many of those involved, but it also undermines the ethical foundations of a free society. Furthermore, licensing is an archaic practice for ensuring standardization among the members of a profession in a way that is no longer suitable for addressing the challenges of the tourism industry in the 21st century, in which a wide variety of specialized and innovative guided tours are offered to tourists. Although this commentary presents a firm stand against the compulsory licensing of tour guides, it should be seen as an invitation for open discussion among tourism researchers regarding the necessity of licensing tour guides in particular, and of government tourism regulation in general. Moreover, further research is needed to clarify key points on the issue of the professional licensing of tour guides.