Centralised Database and Provincial Databases of Tour Guides; with Deputy Minister


22 February 2022
Chairperson: Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

In a virtual meeting, the Committee was briefed by the National and Provincial Registrars of tourist guides on progress made regarding the centralised and provincial databases of tourist guides. Delegates from the Department of Tourism, led by the Deputy Minister, were present in the meeting.

The Committee noted the report of the Auditor-General (AG), which raised issues around poor database management that led to the erroneous payment of the relief funds to deceased people, including the double-dipping of payments to people who also benefitted from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), people employed by the state, and payments made to those without correct identity documents.

The Deputy Minister of Tourism took the Committee through the qualification and certification processes of tour guides, as per the requirements of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). He also indicated the impact of the restrictions on tourism and travel because of COVID-19. He assured the Committee of the Department’s commitment to supporting tourist guides affected by these restrictions, including ensuring that they create awareness about social distancing and hygiene measures as travel restrictions are eased.

After the presentations by the National Registrar and the Provincial Registrars, the Committee heard that the Department and provinces were making efforts to recover the money from the people who were paid incorrectly, and cases had been opened with the South African Police Service. The Committee also noted that some provinces do not have a system to capture the provincial database and only rely on Excel spreadsheets while other provinces had an online registration system for tourist guides.

The Committee further enquired about the credibility of the information received by the National Registrar, as some provinces do not keep accurate and updated information. It was therefore the Committee’s recommendations that the Department of Tourism develop a standardised and uniform electronic online registration system to register, capture, and manage the database of tourist guides. This will assist in the development and management of the provincial databases for tourist guides that will feed into the centralised national database.

Meeting report

The Acting Chairperson welcomed Committee Members and all the guest delegates, thereafter officially opening the virtual meeting.

She reminded the Committee that tour guides are mainly freelancers and self-employed – often working seasonally. Therefore, they must be self-sufficient with the ability to market themselves. She also highlighted that COVID-19 has had an impact on the work of tour guides, as tourism came to a halt because of the restrictions in travel.

The Acting Chairperson also mentioned the findings by the Auditor-General (AG) against the relief fund, which was geared at assisting tourist guides. The AG’s findings raised various issues such as poor database management that led to the relief fund payments being paid incorrectly, including the issue of the provincial databases. These issues thus resulted in the Committee unearthing many institutional challenges within the tourist guide sector.  

The Acting Chairperson invited the Deputy Minister of Tourism to make some opening remarks, before handing over to the National Department of Tourism to brief the Committee, followed by a brief presentation by the Provincial Registrars.

Department of Tourism

The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr Fish Mahlalela, thanked the Acting Chairperson and the Committee for allowing the Department to present collectively as a national and provincial body. He said that the presentation by the national Department went through a thorough input and consultation process from all the provinces.

He highlighted that tourist guides play a major role in the tourism industry, and their role has significantly evolved over the years. He reminded the Committee that, before 1994, various pieces of legislation and policy documentation had been put in place, including the Tour Guides Act 1978. The policies and legislation put in place limited the government's role in marketing and only focused on promoting the country as a place of visit, with little attention paid to developing the tourism sector. However, the advent of 1994 democracy changed the setup of the tourist guides, including the education system within the period of the promulgation of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Act of 1995, which was later paired with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The pair stipulated that all national qualifications will be developed for all components of the education and training system in South Africa. This therefore effectively meant that the tourist guides sector had to develop a set of national qualifications that tourist guides would be expected to achieve, which would qualify them to receive a formally recognised qualification in tourist guiding that could be measured as a qualification against the NQF.

The Deputy Minister (DM) said that, while tourist guides represent 58% of the total number of registered guides, black tour guides (including Africans, Coloureds, and Indians) represent 42% of the total number of registered tour guides. He indicated that such could be attributed to the fact that most of the older White guides appear to have joined the profession mainly as a hobby to supplement their income, while many Black guides enter the profession as a means to survive. The DM further highlighted that, with the low financial rewards associated with the profession, it is not uncommon for newly trained tourist guides to drop off the system to pursue other sustainable and financially rewarding professions. Therefore, the training intervention by the Department of Tourism is focused on increasing the scope of tourist guides to make them more employable or be able to access other markets thus competing effectively in the industry.

He admitted the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector, which has cost many jobs. These challenges, therefore, prompted the Department to introduce the Tourism Relief Fund and the Tourist Guide Relief Fund to provide much-needed relief to the tourism sector.

The Department is committed to creating awareness about social distancing and hygiene measures to ensure safety as COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. He said that the Department also had to act swiftly on the impact of the individual businesses to ensure livelihoods of those dependent on the travel and tourist industries. Through the relief funds, about 4 650 tourist guides were identified to benefit from the fund.

The DM, therefore, requested the Director-General (DG) of the National Department of Tourism, Mr Victor Tharage, to take the Committee through the presentation.

The DG requested the National Registrar of Tourist Guides, Ms Mmaditonki Setwaba, continue with the presentation.

Briefing by the National Registrar of Tourist Guides

The National Registrar highlighted that, on the previous day, they had celebrated International Tourist Guide Day, which was kick-started in the Eastern Cape with a Tourist Guide Activation Programme. She indicated that the programme was continuing through the week, and the tourist guides would be sent for some activities such as hiking, for them to be exposed to some of the products that the government has made available in the sector.

She concurred with what the DM indicated – that tourist guides are a crucial element in the tourism ecosystem, as they act as ambassadors of the country. Further highlighting that the Tourism Act (No. 3 of 2014) provides a clear definition of the scope of guiding with a framework for conduct and governance of the tourist guiding profession. She added that there were pieces of regulations in place to actualise some of the provisions of the legislation, including the code of conduct, ethics for tourist guides, and disciplinary processes.

The National Registrar said that, in terms of Section 50 of the legislation, a tourist guide is defined as “…any person registered who, for a reward, accompanies any person who travels within or visits any place within the Republic of South Africa, and who provides such a person with information or comments”. Within this framework, there are different classifications of tourist guides, as determined by their qualifications. These categories include site, provincial, and/or national guides that are further broken down to culture, nature, and/or adventure guides. And in terms of the legislation, training programmes must be registered by SAQA with accredited programmes offered through the Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) or Higher Education Institutions.

She indicated that the legislation makes provision for two types of registrars, namely, the National Registrar, who is appointed by the Minister to maintain a central database, and the Provincial Registrar, who is appointed by the Member of the Executive Council (MEC). She added that Provincial Registrars play a critical role, as they are the first point of entry for the registration of guides in their respective provinces.

In terms of registration, she said that for provincial registrars to process an application, the applicant must:

-Complete an application form

-Provide proof of identification

-Pay a registration amount.  

-Produce proof of competence issued by CATHSSETA and registered by SAQA

-Produce a first-aid certificate

-Have a work visa for non-South African applicants

-Sign a code of conduct.


She added that, after conducting a disciplinary process, provincial registrars can disqualify a tourist guide for misconduct. The legislation also makes specific provisions for instances where a provincial registrar can decline registering a tourist guide applicant. This includes other provisions such as when a private company has hired an unregistered tourist guide with all the disciplinary measures that can be followed by the Provincial Registrars.

To deal with illegal guiding, after a tourist guide has been registered, they are issued an identity card and an official badge.

In terms of the challenges that are prevalent in the institutional framework governing Provincial Registrars, the National Registrar indicated that there are varying levels of appointments, with some at an administrative and officer level. She added that the function resides with the Tourism entities or Tourism Departments with a lack of strategic administrative capacity and resources allocated to these functions. Some registrars are not only dealing with guiding matters but are also assigned other responsibilities, with a varied understanding of the guiding mandate and the consequences of non-compliance with the Tourism Act of 2014.

She indicated that in some provinces there are no systems, thereby resulting in inaccurate reporting on the status of tourist guiding at the provincial level. Provincial Registrars are required to report monthly statistics to the National Registrar. However, provinces sometimes do not submit these statistics on time.

Another notable challenge was that, in some provinces, some registrars are not yet gazetted. While there is also a lack of awareness of the guiding function at senior levels, she assured the Committee that this issue will be addressed since there is a National Registrar, who will facilitate meetings with the head of departments (HODs), chief executive officers (CEOs) and the Provincial Registrars to ensure that all efforts between the national and provincial are aligned.

In terms of the database challenges, she reported that there are operational challenges, as there are incomplete or non-existed information management systems for tourist guides’ data, including the unavailability or shortage of resources and basic infrastructure such as connectivity, card machines, camera facilities, to mention a few. Of the nine provinces, only three have an electronic system, while some of the other provinces are still using Excel spreadsheets.

The Department’s recommendations on the database challenges include the development of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), also including a centralised system that will serve all the provinces that will be integrated with the systems of other key stakeholders such as the Department of Home Affairs.

Some of the key programmes that are run by the Department include the Mandarin Language Training to open market access; COVID-19 Protocol Training offered to tourist guides; Lecture Series, which serve as refresher courses for the tourist guides; Quarterly Stakeholder Engagements; the International Tourist Guide Day, which kick-started in the Eastern Cape, this year.

In terms of the Tourism Relief Fund, she concurred with what was shared by the Deputy Minister earlier in the meeting. She also added that the eligibility of the Fund was that applying guides should be freelancers with no registration with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), and they should be registered with the Provincial Registrar of Tourist Guides. This was implemented by an integrated work approach between the national Department the provincial registrars, CEOs, and HODs to verify the information of applicants. A total of 4 650 tourist guides were processed to receive the payments of R1 500 for three months, with the last payment made in March 2021.

On the AG’s finding related to the tourist guides' payments made to employees employed by the state, municipalities, or municipal entities: she said that the Department has verified against the payments reconciliation reports to determine how much was redeemed by each beneficiary.

Concerning the findings that the relief fund was paid to deceased beneficiaries, the Departments have verified the cases, in addition to writing to the MECs to inform them of the audit outcomes, with a standard operating procedure to guide the frequency of the review of the register.

In terms of the AG’s findings on the double-dipping of beneficiary payments: the Department has written a letter to the CEO of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to inform them of the duplicated payments. For beneficiaries whom the AG identified to have invalid and blank identity numbers, the Department has since verified the cases with the Provincial Registrars and the Department of Home Affairs. Where inconsistencies are identified, a recovery process has been activated.

Finally, on the tourist guides who received both UIF and the relief fund, the Department is currently conducting a verification process of the cases, which will be followed by a recovery process. For those already verified to have double-dipped, recovery letters have been issued and there are some positive responses.

Briefing by the Provincial Registrars of Tourist Guidance

The Acting Chairperson thanked the National Registrar. She requested the Provincial Registrars briefly present an aerial overview of the status quo in their provinces.

Eastern Cape

Mr Mbulelo Siyo, Provincial Registrar, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, reported on the number of tourist guides who have been trained in the province, including some of the challenges concerning their certification. In terms of growth and development, he indicated that they are engaging the Tourist Guide Association to facilitate the sharing of information and knowledge.

Free State

Mr Alfred Leeuw, Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, reported that some of the provincial challenges include the significant increase of inactive tour guides with 73% being inactive and only 27% active. Other challenges include the lack of awareness of opportunities and the expensive training fee. Some of the programmes that are being implemented in the province include Kasie Tours, Eco-Tourism activities, Tourism Month, Market Access Opportunities, and the training of tourist guides. 


Mr Mbuyiselo Kona, Senior Manager, Gauteng Tourism Authority, raised the issues of coordination between different departments such as the Department of Transport, which is key. He continued to mention that some of the tourist guides alleged the loss of income because of private taxi drivers who tend to transport tourists to various destinations. He indicated that some of the interventions that they have planned include skills enhancement, coordinated tour guide stakeholder synergies, the development and management of a responsive tour guide database, and the implementation of an online registration portal.


Ms P Dlamini, KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, indicated that some of the challenges in KwaZulu-Natal mainly included the communication and verification systems. Some of the programmes offered include Tourist Guide Training, Educational Tours, Tourist Guides Awareness Inspection, Tourist Guide Workshop, and the formalisation of the tourist guide forums.


Mr Moses Ngobeni, Acting Chief Executive, Limpopo Tourism Agency, indicated that most of the challenges identified by the other Provincial Registrars and the National Registrar were identifiable in Limpopo.


Mr Musa Mahlangu, Senior Manager: Tourism Registration, Mpumalanga Tourism, indicated that in the Mpumalanga province, they use a web-based tourist guide registration system that has several benefits, including the effective capture of the information of tourist guides, and a mandatory checklist to verify information in the database. Some of the database challenges include the provision of incorrect information by tourist guides. However, human error has also been identified as a challenge in capturing incorrect data. He pointed out that some of the programmes implemented include the training and development of tourist guides, education and awareness campaigns, and the implementation of the provincial COVID-19 Tourism Relief Fund.

Northern Cape

Mr Andries Mokgele, Registrar, Northern Cape: Department of Economic Development and Tourism, said the provincial government has made good progress in cleaning up the tourist guide database. In terms of tourist guide programmes, he said that they have first-aid training, a mentorship programme, and an integrated Information Management System. He further indicated that they are finding it difficult to keep in touch with tourist guides in far rural areas to verify their details.

North West

Mr Gabriel Dichabe, Acting Director: Tourist Guiding and Regulatory Services, North West Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism, said that in the North West province, they are hosting Cultural Tourism Content Development workshops to capacitate tourist guides in culture and heritage. He further indicated that the province was already in the process of cleaning up the tourist guide database to make sure that it meets the legislative requirements.

Western Cape

Mr Jacques Stoltz, Director: Tourism, Western Cape Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, indicated that in September 2020, the Western Cape introduced a new online system that replaced what they called the “Legacy System”. He said that this replacement has improved the quality of the data captured in the tourist guide database. Some of the identified challenges in the province include low staff capacity and budget cuts. However, they have inspections for illegal tourist guiding, guide training and development, training on COVID-19 protocols and vaccination, and quarterly meetings with the Cape Tourists Guide Association.

To find further details on each provincial submission, please see attached


The Acting Chairperson thanked the DM, the National Registrar, and the nine provincial registrars for their presentations, and requested the Committee to engage the presentations.

Ms M Gomba (ANC) thanked all the presenters for their comprehensive presentations. She sought clarity on what the Department was planning to do on the noncompliance tourist guides – especially in the Western Cape, which is a desired destination for most international tourists. She also wanted to know how the Department was planning to respond to fraudulent identification. She further asked if the Department has looked into working with the Department of Traffic to ensure that tourism cars are identifiable to limit issues of fraud.

On the issue of tourist guides’ training, she wanted to know if tour guides were trained as per the Portfolio Committee’s focus areas, which include ensuring that the tour guides take tourists to townships and villages. For the safety monitors, she asked whether it was possible to integrate them into the monitoring of tourist guides who are not compliant.

Mr M De Freitas (DA) thanked all the presenters and asked if the Department could give account to the Committee about some of the noted inefficiencies with CATHSSETA that has impacted the uptake of tourist guides as getting tour guides recognised and officiated has been a problem with CATHSSETA. He also wanted to know how the Portfolio Committee could assist to unlock the seeming challenges with CATHSSETA.

He expressed his concern about the different databases that exist – the majority of which are Excel spreadsheets. He asked when these databases will be standardised to be able to feed on each other. He further asked whether there was any coordination between the various training programmes identified in most of the provinces, and how the Department ascertains the effectiveness of these programmes based on what is needed in the market. Once the programmes are completed, how are they measured to determine their success?

On the issue of the badges and identity cards, he was concerned about the fraudulent acts around these. He asked the Department to provide further explanation of its implementation plan on the matter.

Ms P Mpushe (ANC) expressed her appreciation to the speakers for their presentation. In the provinces where Provincial Registrars have not been appointed by the MECs, she asked how the responsible officials perform their legislative duties prescribed in the Tourism Act. For these provinces, she wanted to know if there were any consequences or corrective measures regarding this matter. Was there any other form of support that was provided by the Department? She asked whether the Department had managed to recover funds that it have been incorrectly paid. Finally, she posed the question on the prevalence of illegal tourist guiding in the country.

Ms H Winkler (DA) could not unmute herself due to poor signal. Her question was posed in the Zoom chat. She said that it would be interesting to see what the plan is in place to incorporate women into the sector and measure the success of such a programme.


In response, the National Registrar started with the issue of noncompliance, which she said is mainly related to the issue of illegal guiding whereby a person charges a fee and performs activities that are reserved to be performed by registered tourist guides. She indicated that, before the COVID-19 pandemic, what they had done was to work with provinces and the South African Police Service (SAPS) on scheduling inspections at attractions where illegal guiding was prevalent. The Department was in the process of developing a unique security feature on the tourist guide badges to ensure that they are not cloned.

On the training of tourist guides in terms of tour guides taking tourists to townships or rural areas, she said that the Department was taking a development stance to ensure that tourist guides expose tourists to a wide array of places. She added that they are currently running an activation programme, which kick-started in the Eastern Cape, thus exposing the tourist guides to a wide array of activities.

In terms of the Department’s relationship with CATHSSETA, she indicated that CATHSSETA is one of their critical stakeholders. In the challenged areas that have been identified in terms of certification delays, she said that the Department was already in discussion, and solutions were being proposed. She further indicated that CATHSSETA has informed the Department that they were migrated to a new system, which resulted in the identified delays. She assured the Committee that all stakeholders were committed to finding a solution to these issues.

To address the database complications, she indicated that the Department is engaged in a project to ensure the standardisation and integration of the tourist guides’ database. She indicated that the Department will be conducting an audit, although the recent audit had already unearthed the roots of the challenges that are currently being faced in terms of integrating the database system.  

With regards to additional support to the Tourist Relief Fund, she indicated that there was no additional financial support provided by the Department. However, she assured the Committee that the Departments has continued to provide non-financial support such as upskilling the tourist guides through refresher courses, to ensure that they provide excellent services, as they are critical in the recovery of tourism.

In terms of recovery, the Management Action Plan on the findings is focusing on most of the actions that the Department has lined up. Letters have been sent to those concerned after the verification process as a means to recover the funds.

She indicated that the Department was happy to respond in writing if there are any outstanding questions, but assured the Committee that the Department is working closely with the provinces to address the challenges being experienced.

Concerning the provinces with no appointed Registrars, she encouraged these provinces to put their plans into action to make sure that Registrars are gazetted to protect the integrity of the decisions at a provincial level.

The Acting Chairperson asked the National Registrar to unpack the issue of the standardisation registration system across all provinces. She also pointed out the inconsistencies in the remuneration of the Provincial Registrars.

In response, the National Registrar said that the Department had previously made recommendations of the benefits of consistency in registrar levels, as this is a critical component for the function of the system. On the standardisation of the registration system, she said that they are working with other provinces to ensure that they are on the same level, and for those who have developed effective systems to share with the rest of the provinces, to identify the gaps to eventually have standardised database features. For the coming current financial year, she said that supporting provinces was something that they were closely looking into, starting with the audit – which will help identify the loopholes of the system.    

In terms of what goes to the system, she said that the Act is clear on the kind of information that the Department will require. Such information will be crucial in monitoring the trends and the profiling of tourist guides to market their work.

Regarding the training programme, Ms Mmaditonki indicated that the Department is offering training to tourist guides, and some provinces are participating. She added that this is in three phases, and the Department will be entering the final phase in the coming financial years. However, despite the COVID-19 regulations on these programmes, the Department would still measure the impact of the training programmes. In the past, the training on Mandarin was coupled with a stage of immersion where the trained guides would be taken to the country to immerse themselves in the culture and language while exposing them to other tourist guides in these countries.

The DM requested that the Department returns responses to the Committee in writing to ensure that they comprehensively address these questions. On the issue of women's participation, he added that they are going to work with the provinces to attract women into the sector. He said that some of these challenges identified were because sometimes provinces did not prioritise these challenges.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the National Registrar and indicated that the Committee would hold her and the Department accountable for these efforts. She then requested that all the guests be excused to allow the Portfolio Committee to continue with the other duties.

Tabling of Draft First and Second Quarter Performance Report of 2021/22

The Acting Chairperson indicated that Committee Members will go through the minutes during the week. In the following meeting, the Committee will have the opportunity to go through the report and adopt it.

Draft Committee Minutes 15 February 2022

The minutes were considered and adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.


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