Tourist guides not limited to working under travel agencies

We thank Ms Florence Veronica Minjoot for her letter (Give tour guides a fairer deal; Nov 8).

We would like to clarify that tourist guides are not limited to working under companies or travel agencies. They can also market their guiding services to, and accept jobs from, local and overseas visitors directly.

Most tourist guides in Singapore are freelancers, while others are employed by travel-or tourism-related businesses.

Guiding fees are largely driven by market dynamics and factors such as the nature of the job, and the guide's experience and expertise.

We recently made changes to the Travel Agents legislation, with the Travel Agents (Amendment) Bill passed in Parliament on Nov 7, to better position the travel agent industry to grow and thrive in a rapidly evolving tourism landscape.

From January, a travel agent licence will no longer be required for tourist guides to sell, arrange or market local tours without passenger-carrying conveyance.

Examples of such tours include walking tours, cycling tours or kayaking tours.

This exemption helps to foster innovation in our tourism landscape and enables tourist guides to curate and share great Singapore stories.

The board had also considered whether other types of tours, including local tours with conveyance, could be exempted from the need to apply for a travel agent licence.

STB decided against this as requiring them to get a licence allowed STB to better protect consumer interests and uphold the reputation of our tourism industry. STB will, however, introduce a new "niche" licence tier with a lower paid-up capital requirement of $50,000 for entities that conduct local tours with transportation, but without accommodation.

STB will continue to work closely with our tourist guides and travel agents to build industry capabilities and ensure a vibrant tourism landscape.

Ong Ling Lee (Ms)

Director,

Travel Agents and Tourist Guides Singapore Tourism Board

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2017, with the headline 'Tourist guides not limited to working under travel agencies'. Print Edition | Subscribe