New initiatives to better train local tour guides

SINGAPORE - A series of new initiatives will be introduced to train and develop local tour guides, to help them better meet the evolving needs of travellers.

The initiatives were introduced by a government taskforce comprising the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, Employment and Employability Institute and Singapore Tourism Board (STB), and follow the implementation of the STB Amendment Act last October.

STB said on Thursday that the training curriculum for prospective guides will be tweaked from 2016 to include more practical training hours, new e-learning modules and new modules to ensure greater depth and breadth of knowledge.

Licensed guides will be able to hone their skills through a wider spectrum of professional development courses.

To encourage guides to stay in the profession, exemplary guides will be recognised with new awards called the Long Service and Quality of Guiding awards. These will be given out at an annual award ceremony from 2016, in the form of customised pin badges which can be worn while guiding.

"Tourist guides are integral in the tourism landscape and tell the Singapore story to our visitors and we want to acknowledge them for their contributions," said STB director of travel agencies and tourist guides, Ms Ong Ling Lee.

As of July 6 this year, Singapore has 2,446 licensed guides.

STB has also awarded the Society of Tourist Guides (Singapore) (STGS) a grant to further train and market the skills of its members over the next three years. The amount, which STB did not reveal, is from the board's $15 million Association Development Fund unveiled in April 2014 to support tourism-related associations.

"With funding support, the society currently run by tourist guides can now focus more on the needs of our members," said STGS chairman Howard Lim. "We will be engaging full-time professionals to execute our numerous projects, which include plans for training and the use of technology to market the services of our guides."