Need for more tourist guides emphasized

Sattam Al-Balawi

Saudi Gazette report

AHSA — Chairman of the Saudi Society for Tourist Guides Sattam Al-Balawi has called for increasing the number of the tourist guides in the Kingdom who number hardly 200 at present, according to Al-Hayat newspaper on Wednesday.

"There is an acute shortage of the tour guides who should be increased to cope with the expected pro-Umrah tourists," he said at a recent function in Al-Ahsa.

The function was organized by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) on the International Tourist Guide Day.

Balawi said more than 2 million Umrah pilgrims are expected to remain in the Kingdom for tourist purposes after they have completed their rituals.

"The current number of guides is not enough to meet the demand of the pro-Umrah tourists so their number must be increased," he said.

He said the guides are classified into three categories consisting of general, region and location guides.

"We are currently discussing the addition of a specialized tourist guide especially with the emergence of new types of tourism such as caving, mountain climbing and diving," he said.

He said the commission made great efforts to qualify tourist guides organizing training sessions for them in various parts of the Kingdom.

Balawi said, "The tour guide is the leader of any tourist trip and is the eye of the tourist through which he or she sees the heritage, history and culture of the country."

The director of SCTH in Al-Ahsa, Khaled Al-Fraidah, called for the establishment of a branch of the society of tourist guides in the region to follow up with the affairs of the guides and develop their skills.

Youssif Al-Adaili, director of the commission's department of licenses, said the SCTH had organized a number of training sessions and study courses to further qualify the guides who speak English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Indonesian, Malay, Chinese and Urdu.