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Official tour guides- fight piracy

Lisbon
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Official tour guides- fight piracy

Being an official tour guide in Portugal I have to post my opinion regarding our work situation.To become a guide one has to have a license after taking the University Tourism Course.This license is only given after you pass an oral exam and after you pass all your subjects.It is unfair and devastating to see tour guides and tour companies posting ads on tripadvisor and having a large number of reviews when they aren't even official guides and companies.The same applies with guides driving clients in their own private cars with no insurances and taking away the opportunities of those who have to pay the taxes in order for them to work illegally.I pray the government starts controlling more fighting piracy in Portugal.

Lisbon
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1. Re: Official tour guides- fight piracy

Hi,

As far as I know, these companies and private drivers can operate legally, as long as they don't go in, or near, national monuments.

So to call them pirates is a bit of a strech. As is to assume that they are not insured, or lack a license to operate (alvará). Some may be operating outside of the law, but others certainly are not.

Not to mention that the kind of service many of these companies provide is not the same as the one typically provided by the official guides.

So I would be careful with my choice of words, Free speech is very well and nice, but there are limits...

Best regards,

Edited: 15 February 2011, 11:32
Lisbon,Portugal
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for Lisbon, Samana Province, Dominican Republic
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2. Re: Official tour guides- fight piracy

IMHO are different services with different prices.

People are free to choose what they want.

This is commum in all the World, and Lisbon it's not an exception.

We all have to live with that.

Albufeira, Portugal
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3. Re: Official tour guides- fight piracy

I'm with GuiaDinamico and I am not in the business. The same thing is happening in the Algarve and I also think it is terrible. People go to great lengths to make themselves legal and operate within the law in Portugal and paying taxes, having staff on contract is very expensive and makes it very difficult to compete with people who are operating below the radar and can serioiusly undercut you as a result. It's not only tour guides, but airport transfers, property management, cleaning services, the works. It infuriates me that the Finançes routinely goes after people who are trying to make an honest living and don'g go after those who are not.

Lisbon
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4. Re: Official tour guides- fight piracy

Hi,

Just to clarify my position: I am not advocating illegal activity, in the tourism area or anywhere else, for that matter.

All I said, and I stand by that, is that many of these companies are legal, have their licences to operate and pay their taxes.

And they don't provide the same services typically offered by official tour guides, as the law is very clear about what they are and are not allowed to do.

Now, maybe the official tour guides would rather be in the business by themselves, and avoid the competition from these companies.

In that case, tough luck.

San Diego
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for San Diego
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5. Re: Official tour guides- fight piracy

There have been long discussions in the Rome forum about this same topic.

Many of us who are visitors would prefer to deal with official guides but folks are not educated about how to find out who is official and who is not. We also do not know about the differences in the services the 2 groups)(official/not official )are allowed to provide.

Perhaps you could explain the differences?

Lisbon
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6. Re: Official tour guides- fight piracy

Hi riffsmom,

I'm not an expert on the subject, but I can try to answer. If I'm not totally correct, maybe GuiaDinamico can correct me.

First of all, Portuguese official guides (or Guias Intérpretes) always wear a badge. If your guide doesn't, then it's a fair bet he/she is not an official guide. If in doubt, ask.

Official guides are allowed to take groups of visitors into National Monuments, such as Churches, Monasteries, etc.

On the other hand, companies such as the ones advertising - and reviewed - here on tripadvisor (walking tours, etc) are allowed to organize walking tours, daytrips, etc, but their guides (assuming they are not Guias Intérpretes) are not allowed to take their groups into National Monuments, or the areas surrounding said monuments.

So the walking tours offered by these companies are designed to show you the city and talk about its history. They will show you the sights, take you to interesting places and typical neighbourhoods - they can even be gourmet walking tours. But they are not visits to churches, palaces, monasteries, etc.

A simple example would be that you could go on a tour that went past a National Monument -- an official guide could take you inside and explain it to you, while the other guide might give you free time to go inside and explore it by yourself, and then continue the tour. But they wouldn't be able to take you inside.

Bottom line, as PMAL has said, we are talking about different things here. If you want an in-depth tour of say, Lisbon, and want to be taken inside the monuments, you should always go with an official guide.

If you want a walking tour to explore the city, learn about the history of the place, its traditions, lifestyle, food, etc, or if you'd like to be driven to Sintra, Óbidos, Fátima, etc, and have free time in these places to explore them at your leisure, then maybe one of the tour companies will be better suited to your needs.

Just make sure that those companies have a permit to operate, are insured, etc.

Again, as long as people/companies are legal and do what they are supposed to do, I believe there is room for everyone.

Lisbon,Portugal
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for Lisbon, Samana Province, Dominican Republic
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7. Re: Official tour guides- fight piracy

I can only agree 1000% with PauloLX.

Malveira, Portugal
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8. Re: Official tour guides- fight piracy

You know, I agree with most of the sentiments above!

However, most people going on holiday do not want to be bothered about legally finding out about whether or not some one is a legally licensed guide etc. They just want a good reliable (and usually cheap) service quickly.

Insisting that tourists "check legally" to see if a guide is properly licensed or not, is just the right way to chase people away from a tourist destination!

To me, if one is a high quality licensed guide, what one must do is high quality pro-active marketing, be competitive and not depend upon on licensing systems and bureaucracy to protect you from the competition.

My beef is with people who are legally licensed guides, airport transfer operators, etc. who use the system of needing to get a degree, license, bureaucratic authorisation, etc. to stop others (especially the young) easily getting into their business and making a living!!!

Today, especially with the internet and its forums, social media, (facebook, twitter,etc) and other channels, marketing oneself powerfully as a guide is a lot easier. However, it requires ongoing daily work monitoring all the media, chasing down leads and converting the enquiries into sales.

Being a good service provider such as guide, airport transfer service or whatever, requires constant work at marketing both on the web and foot slogging around local hotels, conference organisers, cruise line companies, etc. on a regular basis chasing business and not just waiting for phone calls or email enquiries to come in.

USA
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9. Re: Official tour guides- fight piracy

Amen to that! I support free enterprise100%. I support those who work hard 1000%. GuiaDinamico, if you are not happy with the work situation, see what you can change about it. Or go on your own? Do advertise yourself. We would like to use you, but you are essentially invisible to us tourists right now.

San Diego
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10. Re: Official tour guides- fight piracy

I find this discussion to be quite interesting! It shows that there are major differences in what licensed guides can do in different countries.

I prefer dealing with licensed guides/tours because I think they have worked hard to fulfill the licensing requirements and finding something "cheap' is not my first priority. I like following local customs/laws.

It appears though that here in Portugal it is OK for companies to take tourists around to sights but just not go into and explain the churches and/or national monuments. That is VERY different than in most other places I have visited!

Thankyou for the information!