Tour guides to be trained

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

The South African Tourism Services Association (Satsa) in KwaZulu-Natal has identified the shortage of foreign language-speaking tour guides as a major shortcoming in the industry's preparations for the World Cup in 2010.

Satsa says the lack of speakers of languages such as Urdu, Russian and Japanese might prove a major blow if it not solved soon.

Bunny Bhoola, the association's KwaZulu-Natal provincial president, says they will work with linguistic and cultural groups to train enough guides conversant in foreign languages for 2010.

He says: "Though we expect many fans from the African continent, that does not mean we have to overlook other continents."

Bhoola has also expressed the association's concerns over the high crime rate.

"We have identified crime as one of the major challenges in the run-up to the World Cup and we are working closely with the police to find ways to combat crime and make not just KwaZulu-Natal but the entire country safe," he says.

Furthermore, Satsa has urged unlicensed tour operators to legalise their operations.

But it is worried that the process of granting tour operators vehicle permits takes too long, especially in KwaZulu-Natal.

Only one office in Pietermaritzburg grants permits to taxis and tour operators.

"As a result, there is a huge backlog. We are lobbying the authorities to deal with this problem," says Bhoola.