Guides are hanging: Government’s gaps blacken reputation of Transcarpathian guides

Every year thousands of tourists come to our Silver Land to admire the ancient architectural monuments, walk down the old streets and feel the spirit of history. But the tourism experts warn that a guide without proper documents and education may often distort the history with unreliable facts.

Recently regional Internet portals published the information that more than 40% of tour guides in the three cities of Transcarpathia are working without permits. Within two weeks the experts of "Transcarpathian Tourist Information Centre" monitored 35 tour groups in Uzhgorod, Mukachevo and Berehovo. Each guide was asked to show a guide certificate, a contract with a tour agency. It turned out, that many of them did not have any documents.

Currently there are over 150 guides in the region who have work permits.

To obtain the right to conduct a tour, a person must first obtain the appropriate education. In the Soviet Union, our specialists were trained in Simferopol or Kyiv, now they graduate from Transcarpathian universities. In Uzhgorod there are also special courses.

Over the years of independence the central tourism authority in Ukraine has been reformed six times. As a result, there are no clearly developed regulations on licensing of tour operator activities.

Uzhgorod resident Kyrylo have been conducting tours in Uzhgorod for 7 years. He says, that tourists come mostly from Kyiv, Rivne, Minsk. He told that in order to receive a permit he had to bring education documents, copies of personal documents and pass the exam. The latter condition did not apply to those who had the appropriate degree – for example, in history, regional ethnography or tourism.

According to the order of the Cabinet of Ministers, in Ukraine even a baker, a cleaner, or a veterinarian may be a tour guide. Most often, guides are just re-qualifed bus drivers. However, no one dares to question the qualification of non-specialists. After all who says that a public vehicle cannot be driven by a person with several degrees in tourism or history?

Oleksandr Koval, head of the "Transcarpathian Tourist Information Centre", says the regulation of excursion activity in the region is vague. Cancellation of licenses for tour operator and travel agency activities caused chaos in tourism.

Illegal guides who provide substandard tourist services, undermine the confidence in our tourism, reduce the attractiveness of the region. If in Uzhgorod, Mukachevo or Berehove it is possible to monitor guides, in more remote districts it is harder to check whether they have permission and are telling the truth. First of all, we seek to resolve market of tourist services. Currently, there is an urgent need of systematization. Guide should work with a tour operator or travel agency or be an entrepreneur – it’s legal. But no one checks if one has the permission or not.

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