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Monday, 02 December, 2019, 17 : 30 PM [IST]

Tourist Guides Federation terms ‘Tourist Facilitator’ programme of MoT sheer “appeasement” & “ineffective” for long run

As the Union Ministry of Tourism (MoT) is all set to launch its ambitious Tourist Facilitator (Tour Guides) online certification programme from the New Year, the approved Regional Level Guides (RLGs) are up in arms against it, calling it an “appeasement” for political propaganda of the government.  By diluting the ethos and spirit of the 1996 guidelines of the three-tier system of Tourist Guiding in India, they suspect, MoT and the designers of the new Tourist Facilitator programme are opening doors for touts to get into the mainstream by gaining online certification.

There is a three-tier system with RLGs at the top, followed by State Level Guides (SLGs) and Local Guides established as per the 1996 Guidelines. Currently, the minimum qualification, according to Tourist Guides’ Federation of India (TGFI), for RLGs and SLGs is Graduation and for Local level Guides, it is 10+2.The new Tourist Facilitator programme stipulates minimum eligibility qualification as 10+2.

Narendra Singh Rathore, Immediate past-President, TGFI, criticised the government’s unilateral decision.“It’s an appeasement for political propaganda” of the government to show it is generating employment for people. But it is not a good move at all. It will only help bringing touts through the backdoor,” he stated. “I am not worried about my job. But I am worried about the impact that is going to have on Indian tourism and the quality of guides,” he added.
“A lot of RLAs currently working in the industry are graduates and post-graduates, and with other professional qualifications.They are a confused lot now. This is absolute downgrading of the profession,” says Sanjay Sharma, President, TGFI. Instead of diluting and downgrading the existing system, Sharma said that the government should have tried to strengthen the current system of RLGs through periodical training.

The Guides Federation laments that they were neither consulted nor taken into confidence before effecting this change by MoT. “After 2015, we were not consulted on any subject by the Ministry,” said Rathore.

The Guides’ Federation sees a conspiracy by the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) in the whole strategy.“It was IATO which was shooting off from the shoulders of the Ministry,” says Sharma.They suspect that the IATO has conspired to get guides who can work at cheap rates by downgrading the eligibility and quality of resource.

MoT proposes online Tourist Facilitator programme as a remedy to tie over the shortage of certified guides as well as to overcome the stranglehold of ‘licence Raj’ that exists in the system. In an industry meeting recently Meenakshi Sharma, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, said that the ultimate goal is to create an e-market place of Tourist Guides so that tourists can avail services as per their requirement at will. MoT expects to certify at least 3,000 guides in the first year itself.
 
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