The National Federation of Tourist Guides and Affiliates (NFTGA) has proposed the introduction of smaller, specialised sub-groups for guides to further develop tourism in South Africa.

The proposal suggests that the creation of these sub-groups, or clusters, should be based on special interests or tourist regions, rather than limiting guides to provincial boundaries. Falling under the NFTGA umbrella, clusters would not only be open to tourist guides but to any industry affiliates interested in growing tourism within that particular field.

“For example, clusters can be based on a particular route, such as the N3 highway down to Durban,” said NFTGA Spokesperson, Francois Collin. He said the vision of the NFTGA was that everyone who had a vested interest in tourism on the route would join.

The first of the proposed clusters has been initiated in KwaZulu Natal under tourist guide, Deon Booysens, and the success of this group will determine the future of others.

Collin said the interest-specific clusters would be tools for job creation and community development and, to this end they are encouraged to join forces with private-sector associations and chambers. “A resilient tourist industry can create job opportunities for guides, leading to healthy relationships with valuable socioeconomic spin-offs for communities that rely on tourism for their survival.”

The proposal of clusters was briefly contested by the Cape Tourist Guides Association (CTGA), which exists as a provincial organisation separate from the NFTGA. “These clusters will be different from the CTGA as they’ll be open to guides and industry,” said Collin.

Chairman of the CTGA, Jeremy Howard, has debated the structuring of these groups and said membership of a national body should be fed by local and provincial memberships and not in the filter-down structure the NFTGA is proposing.