International Tourist Guide Day is celebrated annually on 21 February. It started in 1990, and only 15 countries participated then. Established by the World Federation of Tourist Guides’ president, Titina Loizides, putting tourists’ work and the importance to local economy, culture and tourism into focus. The awareness of this day has spread, and 30 years later, the association represents more than 2000 individual tourist guides from over 70 countries.
On this day, tourist guides help to their local communities, conducting tours for disabled persons, disadvantaged persons, for children, industry partners, officials and the general public. In South Africa, this day is celebrated with activities and programmes including presentations, motivational talks, excursions and workshops. It’s about drawing the attention of local authorities, fellow citizens and the media to the quality and value of the work of professional tourist guides.
As part of the city’s Tourism Ambassador Programme, Joburg Tourism launched their first tourism kiosk in Sandton in partnership with Sandton Central on 14 November 2019. Full buy-in and support were received from the Sandton Central Business community, a public-private partnership that has undoubtedly been to the benefit of the general public.
The Tourist Kiosk is strategically positioned at the Sandton Gautrain Station where most tourists arrive in the city. The Tourism Ambassador Programme anticipates making Johannesburg a safer destination, leading to an increased number of tourists visiting the city for both business and leisure. The solar-powered Tourism Kiosk is located in the piazza on the entrance of Gautrain Station, on the corner of Rivonia Road and West Street. The tourist kiosk proudly features the new Sandton Central logo, celebrating 50 years of this vibrant area and represents strength, movement, heart and energy.
Two of Sandton Central’s 12 new multilingual tourism ambassadors will ensure visitors enjoy a warm, friendly welcome and a great visit to Sandton Central. Providing their availability to help at key tourism sites in the area. The Tourism Kiosk operates 24 hours a day with security able to use it as a visible policing spot after hours. It operates from 8am to 5pm weekdays (by Tourism Ambassadors), and again from 7pm to 6am seven nights a week (by Sandton Central public safety ambassadors).
Tourism Ambassadors are to enhance the distribution of tourist information in Johannesburg and to link up collaboratively with JMPD, SAPS, organised citizenry safety structures, tourism associations and Joburg Tourism. Hence, the primary role is to make Joburg a safer and more accessible travel destination.
The Tourism Ambassadors are college and university graduates and have been trained to assist tourists in Sandton Central. They possess the most essential quality for the role of Joburg residents with a passion for the city. The tourism ambassadors are also supported by the much-loved team, “Men in Red”.
The Joburg 2040, Johannesburg’s Growth and Development Strategy (GDS), considers tourism an economic growth imperative on the city’s agenda. Increasing the number of visiting tourists is a priority, that’ll contribute toward the economic growth target of 5% by 2021.
In celebration of International World Tourist Guide Day, please visit the Sandton Central Tourism Kiosk and show your appreciation to these ambassadors and what they’re contributing toward the city, the community, our country and South Africa’s tourism industry.