Proposed tougher action against illegal tourist guides

Tourists taking photographs at the Merlion Park. Suspected unlicensed tourist guides will be questioned or even hauled to the police station by enforcement officers, under proposed changes to the law to give the Government more teeth to fight the sco
Tourists taking photographs at the Merlion Park. Suspected unlicensed tourist guides will be questioned or even hauled to the police station by enforcement officers, under proposed changes to the law to give the Government more teeth to fight the scourge of illegal guides. -- ST FILE PHOTO: NURIA LING

Suspected unlicensed tourist guides can be detained and questioned by enforcement officers, under proposed changes to the law to give the Government more teeth to fight the scourge of illegal guides.

Those who do not cooperate with the officers, can even be hauled to the police station." Offenders may also face harsher penalties, with plans to double the maximum fine to $10,000 for recalcitrants. There are also possible plans for more training and to raise the professionalism among licensed tourist guides.

The proposals come after a year-long review by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Singapore Tourism Board as they grapple with the growing menace amid surging tourist arrivals.

These illegal tourist guides are often foreigners accompanying tour groups from overseas. Others may be work pass holders who take on freelance guiding jobs without the requisite licence to be tour guides. They frequently give wrong information to tourists and take away business from those who have valid licences.

MTI said in a statement on Friday that proposed legislative changes are part of the Government's ongoing efforts to raise the quality of tourist guides.

Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said tourist guides are "a key touch point for many tourists" and are important in promoting Singapore as a choice destination.

He added that standards have to be improved and tougher action need to be taken against illegal guides who could "otherwise tarnish Singapore's image and impede the professional development of the tourist guide industry".