Professional bodies have been a major feature of life since early in the 18th century. They emerged as trades and professions became more and more specialised, skilled and knowledgeable. They are a major feature of modernised, progressive societies.
In the 18th century if you wanted a broken bone set, a boil lanced or a gangrenous limb removed you saw a barber! For anything involving structural metal you saw a blacksmith and to build a cathedral you saw a stone mason. There were no doctors, engineers or architects.
Taking the medical world as an example, as our medical knowledge and specialised skills increased it became necessary to form professional bodies to improve and assure the quality of service to the public. This involved sharing knowledge, setting rules for maintaining standards and establishing an esprit de corps among all medical professionals within various professional bodies.
Today we have professional medical bodies all over the world that register doctors, surgeons and medical specialists of all kinds who have proven their competence and training to their peers and thereby gaining the recognition to practice in their respective countries and fields and thus also closing the door on charlatans and the simply incompetent.
Many professions that require specialised knowledge and skills use peer review as well as qualification verification as their major mechanisms of acceptance. Only members of the specific profession have the knowledge required and are capable of judging the competence of prospective new practitioners of their profession.
We cannot have dentists appointing judges, mining engineers selecting chemists or architects reviewing veterinarians in order to improve, progress and provide the best service to society. Without peer review from people within the respective professions relevance and competence will deteriorate rapidly, leading to loss of reputation and destruction of value and service within the sector.
Today we have professional organisations for all kinds of trades and professions. Tourist guiding is no exception. Travellers, in particular visitors from abroad are entitled to the very best on offer. Professional peer reviewed tour guide bodies exist in many other countries and many travellers make use of their members to make sure of a minimum and reliable standard of service. South Africa should not be an exception.
Thus we have founded the Institute of Professional Tour Guides of South Africa (IPTGSA). We believe it is an important step forward in maintaining South Africa’s reputation and standing as a premier world tourism destination, contributing immensely to the vision that sees the tourism sector providing more employment in our country.
The IPTGSA through its members maintaining an international reputation for reliability, excellence and quality assurance will contribute greatly to increasing South Africa’s share in an extremely competitive world travel market.
Patrick Hanratty National Tourist Guide and member of the founding committee of the IPTGSA