The kingdom needs over the next three years up to 2,500 tourist guide, an increase from the current 140 licensed guides by SCTA, according to Sattam Al-Balwi, chairman of Tourist Guides Advisory Committee (TGAC), which works under the umbrella of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).
He said in a statement to a local newspaper that the current number is small compared to the profusion of archaeological and tourist sites in the Kingdom. He indicated that enrollment in the profession of tourist guides is only available to the Saudis, whether the applicant is employed or unemployed.
He said the requirements for obtaining a tourist guide license is available even if the applicant does not have an education degree. He said that it is sufficient to be literate. Applicants must be 21 years old or older and pass a personal interview.
Tourist guides are divided into three categories, the first general guide who could obtain a license if he meets the aforementioned conditions, in addition to carrying a high school diploma as well as a good knowledge of all regions of the Kingdom. The second category of guides should hold a high school diploma and with good knowledge of his tourist guiding area. The third guide may not possess an educational degree.
He attributed the low demand for the profession of tourist guides and the guides suffering to the ignorance of the profession and the lack of a mass tourism culture among Saudi citizens, in addition to lack of cooperation between Saudi guides and Saudi tourists in general.
Therefore, there is a low demand for the Saudi guide who deals with foreign tourists through the tourism companies which organize “tour groups.”
He stressed rationing tourist trips as well, not allowing any tour guide who does not have a license to conduct tours. He pointed out that licenses are granted for a year during which the performance of a tour guide is assessed before renewing his license.