Singapore on a mission to up-skill tour guides

Tourists gather at Singapore's Merlion statue (photo by Supannee Hickman)
Tourists gather at Singapore’s Merlion statue (photo by Supannee Hickman)

Singapore has embarked on a new mission to up-skill the city’s tour guides.

The city’s Tourist Guide Taskforce, which comprises the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), Employment & Employability Institute and Singapore Tourism Board (STB), unveiled the plans at a media briefing on Thursday, saying the scheme was part of government’s efforts to “raise the professionalism of tourist guides and the quality of tourist guiding in Singapore”.

To achieve this, the taskforce will focus on a series of areas, including improving the training and assessment process for tour guides before they receive their licence, and offering “greater recognition for experience and excellence”.

From 2016, prospective tour guides will have to undertake a more comprehensive training programme, including more practical training, e-learning modules, and new training elements designed to improve the guides’ depth of knowledge.

“With these recommendations in place, there will be more opportunities for local [tour guides] to not just be better equipped with professional skill-sets but also achieve better career growth in the long run,” said Janice Foo, director of the WDA’s tourism division.

She added that the measures would help to “enhance Singapore’s competitiveness as a tourism destination of choice”.

Singapore will also start issuing ‘Long Service & Quality of Guiding’ awards next year. These will be awarded at an annual ceremony in the form of pin badges, which can be worn by the guides when they work.

“[Tour guides] who are experienced, able to provide bespoke services or have expertise in different interest areas are now more sought after. Tourist guides are integral to the tourism landscape and tell the Singapore story to our visitors, and we want to acknowledge them for their contributions,” said Ong Ling Lee, the STB’s director of travel agents & tourist guides.
The STB has also awarded the Society of Tourist Guides Singapore (STGS) a grant to help it implement a three-year related to the improvement of tour guide training and development.

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