How to Establish a Tour Guiding Service | Western Cape Government

How to Establish a Tour Guiding Service


A tourist guide is any person who, for monetary or other reward, accompanies people who are travelling through or visiting any place within a country, and who furnishes those people with information or comments with regard to the places or objects visited. Many tourist guides may also wish to run their own tour operation in which case they are both tour guide and tour operator. For more on tour operating, refer to the section on "How to establish a Tour Operating Business".

There are three categories of tourist guide:

  • In-bound tourist guides provide services mainly to foreign visitors to South Africa.
  • Out-bound tourist guides provide services to clients in South Africa wishing to travel to destinations outside of the country.
  • Local tourist guides provide services to domestic clients for tours within South Africa.


Under the Tourist Guide Act there are categories of registration for tourist guides, and requirements to operate legally. For full information you need to contact your Provincial Registrar of Guides, Anne Barnes at 021 483 8734.

Categories of Tourist Guides:

  • Local or Regional Site Guide
  • Local or Regional Nature Guide
  • Local or Regional Cultural Guide
  • Local or Regional Adventure Guide (e.g. river rafting, mountaineering, diving etc.)

A National Tourist Guide qualification in all above categories allows a guide to operate in all provinces.

To apply for registration as a legal guide in your Province you will need the following:

  1. a certified copy of you ID or passport
  2. 4 colour photographs - passport size
  3. a copy of your work permit if you are not a South Africa citizen
  4. the prescribed fee of R240
  5. certified copies of your qualifications
  6. current registration details (if with SATOUR or other Associations)
  7. a signed copy of a code of conduct (obtainable from the Provincial Registrar).


Legal: Are you a fully registered and legal guide? You have to comply with the Tourist Guiding legislation in this regard. You will need to be able to prove that you have the requisite qualifications to register as a legal guide.

Transport: Do you have the required transport and driving permits? If you are going to transport tourists, as well as be a guide, then you need to have a road transportation permit, as well as a public driving permit.

Training: Do you have the right training and experience to be a good guide? To obtain the right qualifications, you need to have completed training according to the registered standards for Tourist Guiding. Be sure that wherever you train, the institution is registered with the Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Education and Training Authority (THETA), and that the qualification they offer is in line with current legislation. To be sure you can contact your Provincial Registrar of Guides or the THETA in Johannesburg on 011 803 6010.


To improve your chances of securing work as a tourist guide, it is recommended that you speak a foreign language, e.g. Spanish, French, German etc.

As a tourist guide you may take tourists through certain rural communities. It is important to strive to secure a partnership, or some formalised co-operation, with these communities as part of building a positive tourism atmosphere in South Africa, ensuring tourist safety and achieving a transfer of financial benefits to communities. This could be in the form of tourists spending money on curios, craft products and cultural artefacts, accommodation and possibly a percentage fee based upon the fees paid by the tourists.

The content on this page was last updated on 15 March 2014