The quality offered by tourist guide services was the theme of a virtual symposium by the Malta Union of Tourist Guides. This symposium, which is held annually, carried an added significance this year, on the 40th anniversary of the Malta Union of Tourist Guides.
Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Julia Farrugia Portelli opened the symposium with an overview of initiatives undertaken by the Ministry, amongst which was the revision of the regulatory framework to better reflect the latest market trends and profiles of incoming tourists. The Minister also discussed the impact of European legislation on Maltese laws, the contributions of the tourism sector on the Maltese economy, and the training standards required to improve tourist guide services.
The Minister also mentioned that, in the coming months, new standards will be introduced, as well as a licence for a new section of docent in museums and group leaders who accompany students studying English in Malta. The Minister stated that a new code of ethics for guides will be introduced, whilst applicants for a licence to operate as tourist guides will face a board of examinations that will evaluate academic qualifications and the competence required to operate as a tourist guide in Malta. This follows discussion with MUTG in the past months.
Minister Farrugia Portelli thanked the guides for their significant contributions to the tourism industry. Through their work, they represent everything that Malta has to offer as a tourist destination. The Minister recognised that the industry is facing a number of challenges and mentioned the ongoing work between the Ministry, the Institute for Tourism Studies and the MUTG so that these challenges are overcome, and the quality of tourist guide services continues to improve. She mentioned that in the past months, the government introduced a new legal notice that enables students following a tourist guide course to gain work experience in the sector, accompanied by licenced tourist guides or their lecturers.
This symposium saw the participation of Maltese speakers, and others from countries such as England and Greece. In their remarks, the speakers touched upon a variety of different subjects related to quality.
Paul Spiteri and Glorianne Mizzi spoke on behalf of the MUTG. Mr Spiteri spoke about the economic aspect of tourist guides, and highlighted the economic contribution of qualified tourist guides and the fact that irregular tourist guides result in a loss of income both for the state, as well as the guides themselves. Apart from this, a loss in the quality of the tourism product also occurs.
Glorianne Mizzi spoke about the training for tourist guides, since she educates tourist guides in the Institute for Tourism Studies. She spoke about the numerous ways that can assure quality and future prospects. She also spoke about legislation, training, enforcement and the need for more publicity for the profession of tourist guiding, amongst other issues.