It’s surprising, to say the least, that in South Africa – a country with a huge and fanatical following of mountain bikers – we don’t have an MTB Tourist Guide certificate. Well, time to change that. With thousands of tourists pouring in from abroad and many more locals wanting to be led on our wonderful single-track trails, the need for qualified professionals is increasing every year.
There are many actually working as MTB guides, illegally. Quite a few companies exist from the Cape to Cairo. In SA, the Tourism Act makes it clear that to be a guide of any kind, conducting tours for gain, you must be qualfied and officially registered. But here’s the catch: there’s no formal qualification for mountain biking (as well as numerous other adventure activities where people are being guided, such as river tubing). There are no specific MTB Unit Standards (US) under the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
So guides are in double jeopardy: on the one hand you can be arrested, fined and even jailed for working illegally. On the other hand if you did have an accident of some kind the fact that you were not an officially registered guide could lead to punitive damages claimed by the offended party. They would win hands-down, especially if there was already a criminal judgement against the illegal guide.
I’m determined to pursue the issue and get our MTB fraternity onboard with tourist guiding. As I run trails myself, everything I’ve said applies to me too.
What’s the solution? Read on… Continue reading Legalising mountain bike guides