GTP Headlines received the following letter from the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (FEG) in response to the recent article on the Greek Government’s plans to revise the tourist guide profession in Greece.
TO THE MINISTERS OF TOURISM & EDUCATION OF GREECE
EUROPEAN FEDERATION OF TOURIST GUIDE ASSOCIATIONS
24-25.11.12, Annual General Meeting, Dubrovnik, Croatia
FEG has been recently informed about a major revision of the tourist guide legislation in Greece (Law 710/1977).
According to the revised legislation, historians and archaeologists from EU countries may obtain full professional qualification for the tourist guide profession after participating in a two-months seminar, whereas the regulated tourist guide education in Greece extends to 2,5 years, including 1090 hours of theoretical education and 110 full days of field trips and additional practical exercise.
FEG is concerned that, through the said revision, the tourist guide profession in Greece is unduly confused, and eventually merged, with different professions. Professional qualifications for the tourist guide profession will effectively be granted to persons whose education does not meet the minimum requirements of the European Standard ΕΝ 15565:2008 of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN). The education of historians and archaeologists, as respectful it is in itself, is substantially different from the skills and knowledge that are required from any tourist guide. It is apparent that a two-month seminar is clearly insufficient to make up for the special training and area-specific education that tourist guides receive while historians and archaeologists lack (e.g., among many others, communication and presentation techniques, group management, area-specific and contemporary life knowledge, conduct to persons with disabilities, health and safety requirements etc. etc.).
FEG also notes that the profession of tourist guide is a regulated profession in Greece, which means that Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications applies. Tourist guides holding professional qualification granted by the Greek State may, under the terms and conditions of the said Directive, exercise their profession in any other EU country. Hence, any substantial deregulation of the qualifications for a regulated profession in one country entails the danger of “qualifications shopping” and, eventually, of “professional dumping” all over EU.
Historians and archaeologists from any EU country that, according to their national legislation, do not possess the right to exercise the tourist guide profession, may thus use the opportunity to obtain that right, by just participating in a two-month seminar in Greece. Needless to say, this gravely contradicts the “same profession” principle, laid down in art 4 par. 1 of Dir. 2005/36, which only allows access to a profession as long as it is the same in different EU countries.
However, a virtually merged “tourist guide-historian-archaeologist” profession in Greece is clearly not the same as the tourist guide profession as defined in the EU (see, e.g., Commission Report COM (2001)171 fin, Commission Working Paper SEC (97)837 fin) and by the CEN European Standard ΕΝ 13809:2003 and EN 15565:2008). It is, therefore, crucial that established terminology and classification of professions is respected, in order to avoid confusion between different professions and activities.
In light of the above, FEG Executive Committee and all its delegates of tourist guide members-associations and federations present in the FEG Annual General Meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia on the 24-25 November 2012 hereby unanimously urge the Greek Government to reconsider its policy towards the tourist guide profession, which, as it stands now, may have grave implications to the detriment of the protection of consumers and tourists not only in Greece but also all over Europe.
For the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (FEG)
Chairman of Ex.Co.