How To Establish A Tour Guiding Service

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 operations in which they are both tour guide and tour operator (see brochure: ‘How to Establish a Tour Operating Business’).


There are three categories of tourist guides:

1) Site guides: these guides have attained the minimum qualifications required in order to guide in a ‘limited

    geographical area’, for example, within the boundaries of the Durban Metro area;

2) Regional/Provincial guides: are qualified to take tourists around an entire province, e.g.: KZN;

3) National guides: who are permitted to conduct tours around South Africa, crossing all provincial boundaries. In

     addition, tourist guides will also be classified as nature, culture guides, adventure or a combination of these.



Space and Infrastructure

If you are a one-person operation, very limited space is required and only the basic office infrastructure is needed.

You will need access to a telephone and a fax and electricity would be very useful.



The Local Municipality can advise you on the parking required. This is only likely to be necessary for large businesses

that may attract large numbers of clients at any one time.


Amenity Value

You may seldom need to bring people to your office because 90% of your work takes place away with tour groups. However, if you are a large business operation with many employees and clients, then you will need to be concerned about the location of your office and whether the surrounding area is well-kept and maintained, noise levels are low and so on.



The tour guide will generally move to his/her market. Thus accessibility may not be an issue. However, if an office is established and there is a need for signs and the like, then it will be necessary to consult the Local Municipality. The Local Municipality has controls for the erection of any signs. If new access onto streets is needed, the Local Municipality will usually construct them, at the cost of the developer. In the case of offices in rural areas, permission must be obtained from the Department of Transport to construct new access routes onto main roads outside Local Municipality areas.



•  Land Use Zoning – Approach the Local Municipality to establish whether the Town Planning Scheme permits the activity on the site you      have chosen;

•  Licensing and Registration – Approach the Local Municipality in order to register your business;

•  In order to operate as a tourist guide, application must be made to DEAT via the Provincial Tourism Authority (in

   the  case of KwaZulu-Natal, it would be TKZN) in order to register as a tourist guide in terms of the Second Tourism

   Amendment Act of 2000;

•  Tourist guides must register every two years and must have completed training as prescribed by Theta and have

    undergone assessment by an accredited Theta assessor. Training is also provided by Theta accredited training

     institutions. Registration costs R240 for the two-year period;

•  Registration is not possible without a requisite knowledge of history, geography, fauna, flora, climate, availability

   of medical and emergency services, background and culture of the different peoples, infrastructure of the tourism

   industry and the economic circumstances in and of the geographical area in question. Without this registration, the

   Tourism Act does not permit operation as a tourist guide, and operation, once registered, is only permitted in respect

   of the class of guide as set out in the registration certificate. The National Department of Environmental Affairs and

   Tourism and the various provincial tourism authorities keep a register of tourist guides and record the prescribed particulars with regard         to tourist guides. 

  •  Regulations and By-Laws – Your application for a trading licence will be circulated by the Local Municipality to the health, fire and      building inspectors, the Town Planning Department, and in some cases, the Development Services Board (DSB). These bodies will    ensure that your plans comply with their regulations before the application can be approved;

•  Road Transportation Permit – Many tourist guides may also wish to run their own tour operation in which they

    are both tour guide and tour operator. You must make note of the following legal requirements:

•  Every vehicle that is to carry passengers for reward (i.e.: paying passengers) shall have its own road transportation permit;

•  Application should be made to the Local Transportation Board for the permit. You can prepare your application yourself. It is

very important to be quite clear on the fact that you will be transporting tourists and to mark clearly the routes that

will be used. If you do not wish to prepare your own application you may use the services of a road transport specialist

lawyer. Obviously then, there are usual lawyer rates involved. The Southern African Tourism Services Association

(SATSA) do not provide assistance in this process.


The contact number in the province of KwaZulu-Natal for the Road Transportation Board office from which application

forms may be obtained is: Pietermaritzburg: (033) 341 9500

The cost of an application is R115.00.

Once completed, the forms must be submitted together with R115,00, to the Road Transportation Board and the proposed travel routes are gazetted, together with details of the application. After the application has been gazetted and the period for objections has elapsed, the applicant will be called to a sitting of the Board where the application and any objections will be heard. The Board will subsequently make its decision, which will be communicated to the applicant or his representative. At the hearing, the applicant may attend in person or may appoint a representative.


•  Public Drivers Permit – To drive paying passengers (tourists) on public roads you are required by law to have a

public driving permit. You must hold a valid driving licence for the size of vehicle that you intend to drive (e.g.: code

08 for cars and the like). Your application for the permit is subject to a medical examination and a check for any

criminal convictions through the police records. This permit is issued at a cost of R185.00 and may be obtained from

the Provincial Road. Traffic Inspectorate (Pinetown: (031) 700 1520, Pietermaritzburg: (033) 342 3939, or your nearest

Provincial Roads Traffic Inspectorate offices).


•  Other Legal Requirements – The erection of road signs if required needs approval from:

•  Department of Transport for national roads;

•  Facility Signs Committee in the Provincial Department of Transport for secondary roads;

•  Local Municipal Engineer for local roads in Local Council areas.


•  Policy – TKZN and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism should be consulted for updates on policy.



•  Business Advice Centres:

Durban: (031) 308 9920

Pietermaritzburg: (033) 264 3100

•  Business Partners Limited:

Durban: (031) 240 7700

Richards Bay: (035) 789 7301

•  Department of Economic Development

and Tourism (DEDT):

(033) 264 2500

•  Department of Agriculture

and Rural Development (DARD):

(033) 355 9690

•  Department of Trade and Industry (dti):

(012) 394 9500

KZN Regional Office

(031) 305 3389

•  Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

(031) 335 1000

•  Department of Tourism Pretoria:

Tel: (012) 310 3872

Fax: (012) 320 4740

Fax: (012) 322 5154>

•  Field Guide Association of South Africa (FGASA)

(011) 886 8254

•  Ithala Development Finance Corporation:

(031) 907 8911

•  South African Tourism (SA Tourism):

(011) 895 3000

•  Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA):

086 127 2872/(011) 866 9996

•  Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN):

(031) 366 7500

•  CATHSSETA (for details of accredited trainers and


0860 100 221, (011) 803 6010 or