What are the requirements for becoming a tour guide?

DEAT stipulates that the potential Tourist Guide must successfully complete a Tourist Guiding Course with a CATHSSETA accreted training provider. Tourist Guide Institute has CATHSSETA Accreditation and B-BBEE Level 4 status.

What is a Tour Guide?

Any person who, for monetary or other rewards, accompanies people who are travelling through or visiting any place within a country, and who furnishes those people with information or comments concerning a place or objects visited is defined as Tourist Guide. Many tourist guides may also wish to run their own tour operations in which they are both tour guide and tour operator.

Categories of tour guides

There are three categories of tourist guides:
Site Guides – these tourist guides have attained the minimum qualification in order to guide in a “limited geographical area” i.e. Hiking in the Drakensberg, visiting the Natal Battlefields,  taking a day tour of Cape Town, visiting Soweto;
Provincial Guides – are qualified to take tourists around an entire province i.e. Limpopo or Gauteng;
National Guides – are permitted to conduct tours around South Africa, crossing all provincial boundaries. These guides would accompany people taking a comprehensive tour of South Africa, say, by coach.

Classification of Tour  Guides

Adventure Guides – conduct a guided adventure experience e.g. rock climbing, paddling, abseiling, etc.
Nature Guides – conduct a guided nature experience in areas such as  Game Reserves, National Parks, nature conservation areas, trails, and the like.
Cultural Guides – conduct a guided cultural experience in a limited geographical area such as a  museum, community, wine farm, town or city.


Qualifications for tourist guides are governed by the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

There are only two qualifications registered on the NQF:

    1. National Certificate in Tourism: Guiding (NQF2)
    2. National Certificate in Tourism: Guiding (NQF4)Note that a new NQF 4 qualification has recently been registered and this replaces the 20155 qualifications.

      Several unit standards, within the different areas of specialisation, have been clustered together to form skills programmes addressing areas of specialization, and aimed at persons wishing only to complete the specialized minimum area of learning required to guide.

      These skills programmes are registered by CATHSSETA (The Culture Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority )for certification purposes. The applicable unit standards are registered on the NQF.  In order to register as a site guide specialising in culture, nature, or adventure guiding you need different combinations of unit standards.  These rules of combination can be accessed on the CATHSSETA website, at www.cathsseta.org.za.

      To register as a provincial or national guide you need, as a minimum, qualification at NQF level 4 plus the required unit standard for your area of specialization – You can also view these on the CATHSSETA website as given above. Note that the requirements for guide registration, including what learning programme or course is needed for which category of guiding, is the competence of the Provincial Registrars of Tourist Guides.

      Assessors cannot issue certificates as they have to be working for/with an accredited training provider who will then issue certificates from CATHSSETA, upon completion of the assessment. The duration of the course, course content, dates and time of training, fee structure is determined by each training provider.

      The guiding qualifications are made up of a collection of unit standards or building blocks. Each unit standard represents knowledge that a person must have, specific to his profession. These unit standards were devised in close consultation with tourist guides and other stakeholders. Each guide will be assessed against these standards.

      Tourist guides are free to choose any training provider or assessor to work with. Details of accredited tourist guide training providers and assessors are available on the CATHSSETA website at www.cathsseta.org.za or can be obtained by calling their offices on 011 217 0600 or sending an email to info@cathsseta.org.za.

      Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is the type of assessment used for those who have been working as unregistered guides in the past as it takes into account all the qualifications, work experiences, life skills etc. for a particular guide and fits these into the current NQF for guiding. The assessor may point out the areas/unit standards to which extra attention needs to be given. Once the tourist guide has completed this a meeting with the assessor will need to be arranged in order to complete the assessment.

      The registration process

      No tourist guide may work without being registered.

      Tourist Guiding Training and Assessors

      All tourist guide trainers and assessors have to be accredited by CATHSSETA to be able to train according to the nationally recognized standards and qualifications network.

      According to the Tourism Second Amendment Act no 70 of 2000, any person who wishes to be registered as a tourist guide shall apply to the relevant Provincial Registrar.

      In order to be registered as a tourist guide in South Africa, a person must meet the following minimum requirements:

      • must be at least 21 years of age;
      • must be a South African citizen or be in possession of a valid work permit;
      • must have undergone training with a CATHSSETA-accredited training provider;
      • must be in possession of a valid first aid certificate from an institution accepted by the Department of Labour;
      • submit 4 passport size photos;
      • pay a registration fee of R240; and
      • must submit a completed and signed registration form and a code of conduct and ethics upon registration.

      Proof of registration

      The old SATOUR badges and ID cards became null and void on 31 May 2002. Registered tourist guides are now identified by new ID cards which all tourist guides are required to have in their possession whilst guiding. Official tourist guide badges must also be worn whilst guiding. The Provincial Registrar will issue badges and ID cards to new guides only once their application for registering as a tourist guide has been approved. The ID cards indicate the category of guiding, the regions for which the tourist guide was found competent to guide, as well as specialties that the guide might possess.  The ID cards are very important because the various policing authorities will request tourist guides to produce these during tourist guide spot checks conducted at various parts of South Africa to identify illegal/unregistered tourist guides.

      Renewal of registration

      Any person registered as a tourist guide, may before the end of the period for which he/she is registered, apply to the Provincial Registrar for renewal of his or her registration and his/her registration shall, upon submission of application forms and other documents and the payment of R240, be renewed. For a full list of Provincial Registrars refer to the table at the end of this article.


      Failure of a tourist guide to complete the NDT registration and CATHSSETA accreditation process but continuing to guide will result in that tourist guide being liable for prosecution. Fines of up to R1 000 can be imposed on illegal guides. Operators found to be using illegal guides can be fined amounts up to R10 000. The process for lodging complaints about unregistered/illegal guides as well as registered/legal guides is outlined in the Second Tourism Amendment Act, 2000. Copies of these can be obtained from NDT offices or from any of the Provincial Registrars’ offices.

Tourist Guide Code of Ethics

A Professional Tourist Guide must conform to the Tourist Guide Code of Ethics. The code states that a guide:

  • Shall be welcoming and demonstrate an enthusiasm for South Africa.
  • Shall at all times show a willingness to provide optimum support and quality service to all tourists, and will give tourists an opportunity to enjoy or visit the desired destination.
  • Shall in no way discriminate in rendering service to any tourist on any basis, e.g. race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, physical challenge, age, etc.
  • Shall be impartial, unbiased and positive, and represent South Africa objectively.
  • Shall be suitably dressed and presentable at all times.
  • Shall be punctual, reliable, honest, conscientious and tactful at all times.
  • Shall be a responsible driver, when driving as a guide.
  • Shall carry out the programme/itinerary of a tour to his/her best abilities and be loyal to the company/organization that he/she is representing.
  • Shall deal with conflict in a sensitive and responsible manner.
  • Shall report any incident of injury or death to a nearby tourist authority or police station.
  • Shall be knowledgeable and shall assist tourists and not provide them with misleading information.
  • Shall in the event of not being familiar with, or being unable to provide information requested by a tourist, consult with the appropriate authorities for assistance.
  • Shall at no time be under the influence of alcohol or a narcotic substance while on duty and shall refrain from administering any medication to a client without proper medical consultation.
  • Shall never solicit for clients or gratuities.
  • Shall be concerned at all times for the safety of the tourist.
  • Shall wear the appropriate tourist guide badge and will carry his/her registration card.
  • Shall treat all people, cultures and the environment with respect.

International Declaration for Tourist Guides Around the World

At the World Federation of Tourist Guides Association 15th International Tourist Guide Convention, held recently in Macau, China,  the  2013 Macau International Declaration for Tourist Guides Around the World was signed.

The full time courses are 2 weeks (10 days) long made up of theoretical and practical training. Thereafter there is a period of 6 weeks in which to complete the set Unit Standards Assessments and a written examination at the end. The training is provided by accredited tourist guides who have the experience and expertise. Our Online Courses are 8 weeks long, offering lectures in the form of videos and then end with 5 days face to face practicals. In order to work as a Tourist Guide a person must be registered with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT). Every province has a Registrar of Tourist Guides. In the case of the Western Cape the registrar falls under the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT).Once the potential Tour Guide is in possession of a Tourist Guiding Certificate he/she can register as a tourist guide with DEAT for the area indicated on the certificate. Additional areas/provinces can be added to a tourist guide’s qualification/s after the successful completion of an exam on the additional area/s. The South African tourist guiding industry is controlled by the Tourism Act (Act no. 72 of 1993 + the Tourism Amendment Bill 2001) and states that no person who has not been registered as a tourist guide shall, for reward, act as a tourist guide. Note: The Act furthermore stipulates that tour guides must renew registration every three years and that prospective tourist guides should complete a prescribed training course at an accredited training institution approved by CATHSSETA (Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality & Sports Education & Training Authority).

What do I need to register as a tourist guide?

  1. Register online https://www.westerncape.gov.za/service/registration-tourist-guide
  2. Certified copy of ID document / Passport and Work Permit, Resident Permit, Refugee Status Document
  3. Certified copy of your First Aid Certificate (Level 1)
  4. Certified copy of the Wine Certificate (optional)
  5. Certified copy of Tourist Guide Institute Certificate (or other accredited provider)
  6. Certified Cathsseta Certificate or Cathsseta Letter of Competence
  7.  Colour ID size photograph
  8. Certified copy of SA driver’s license and PDP (if you have one
  9. Certified copy of Highest Education Qualification
  10. Proficiency Language certificate (Should you apply to guide through the medium of another language besides English or any other official languages in RSA)
  11. R240 Registration Fee or R30 in the case of an extension
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