Setting up an Association
Guidelines for professional tourist guides wishing to found an association. This document is also useful for associations already established but needing directions for developing their association.
What procedure should be followed
A small group of Guides with the initiative to set up an Association should first have informal meetings with simplified procedures to discuss and to act on the following (It might be useful to seek support from the tourist board or other local authority as this will encourage more Guides to join in the proceedings. Remember that the aim is co-operation of the various parties involved and not confrontation):
- Obtain and get acquainted with the law, if any, concerning the establishment of professional Associations in your country and carefully study the regulations.
- Discuss the goals of the Association and how to pursue and archieve them. Then create an overview of general interests for tourist guides and their community.
- Work with legal assistance, if required, on the drafting of a constitution after studying other constitutions of professional bodies with more or less similar objectives. (See below, summary of provisions). Remember to check on all legal requirements, if any, and be sure to conform with them.
- You may wish to design an emblem for the Association. Make two or three sketches which you think reflect the character, goals and ideals of the Association
- You should then proceed to establish a Temporary Committee (Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer). Be sure that they are qualified for the post. It is very important that the Treasurer understands the basic principles of book-keeping and placing money to the best advantage for the Association. Just any committee member will not do. It is best 10 seek out in advance both a secretary and treasurer suitable for the job, The secretary should keep minutes and record the decisions at the end of each meeting. It is always better for the decisions to be unanimous, especially until the Association becomes legalised.
- Make a list of licensed or qualified Guides (according to the existing situation in the particular country) in order to convene the first general meeting and invite them lo attend. Trace as many as possible and secure their addresses.
- Prepare an estimate and possible expenses and determine the subscription and annual membership fees. i.e. Enrolment tee, annual subscription, fees for a half-day and a full-day lour. Etc.
- Fix the date and place of the first formal meeting. (Secure a good place anti make sure that there will be no charge!)
- Send invitations with agenda and perhaps, a copy of the draft constitution for study by the founding members. Make sure you invite more than the minimum number required by the regulations concerning the establishment of an Association and the approval of the constitution, in case not everybody turns up.
- Depending on the type of members sought, local newspapers, radio or television may also he an additional good way of inviting otherwise untraced Guides, (find the cheapest way to do it, and remember that usually newspapers do not charge in the reader’s columns).
- To achieve legal and professional status and recognition. The aim is for the Tourist Guide Association to be recognised as an official association, enjoying the legal and professional status awarded to other professional bodies under the law of each country.
- To professionally bring together a group of Guides working within the same town, region or country.
- To act as the spokesman for the majority of Guides in order to promote the professional, economic, and social standing and interests of Guides. To be able to negotiate, on behalf of its members for things such as better working conditions and fees.
- To promote co-operation between Guides, other individuals and bodies involved in tourism and local authorities, in order to promote well organised tourism, and upgrade the service offered to tourists, that is to have a say in the decision-making on tourism in their country. To provide a body with whom tourist boards and local authorities can co-operate in raising quality of tourism offered.
- To improve and enhance the professional training of Guides. Where applicable, to prompt Tourist Authorities to train and examine Guides within their country. As an organised body to have a say in the selection, training and examination of recognised standards of Guides.
- To represent Guides in International Organisations, Federations and other professional bodies.
- Through the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations, to have access to a source of information on Guide training and registration elsewhere and assistance with setting up a registration of guides.
- To be able to organise various functions and other activities. To be able to provide the country with an immediate source of suitable guides for VIP visitors, conferences, fam. Tours etc.
- As professionally organised Association to be unpolitical and work on a non-profit basis. Depending on local circumstances, the Association may be affiliated to a trade union. In some countries, the Tourist Association is a member of the Chamber of Commerce.
- The founders, a small group of professional guides should have Great Enthusiasm and Love for the profession and should be able to devote a lot of their Time.
- The efforts of this group should be consistent and serious. This, along with the enthusiasm and the knowledge of the value of their services to their country and to tourists, will ensure that future members can show trust in the Association and will deliver the message, to both members and general public, that the people involved in this Association are responsible and reliable.
Before setting up an Association, you need to resolve a very important issue: the qualifications for membership. Although circumstances can vary enormously from country to country, the following might apply:
- Where there are only individual guides, self- or agent-trained, the only recognised qualification can be the length of experience. Originally the Association may aim to be simply a social group, to meet mainly for the exchange of ideas. This very limited goal should be seen as the first step to a more professional approach.
- Alternatively, the Association may aim to achieve recognition of certain standards for officially qualified guides. Where selection, training, examining and registration (or most of these) are already established, successful qualification would be required for membership, as in other professional bodies. If the aim is to raise standards, retesting at intervals, and/or taking part in further training and upgrading may be required for continued membership.
This second option, which in most countries is the advanced step from (a) above, requires a government or local authority willing to be involved in setting and examining those standards. This situation does not apply in all countries, and an association setting up under model (a) above, should treat this need as a priority. Indeed any group planning to form a Guides Association would do well to check with the tourist board or any authority which might register guides, in order to have their support for these aims.
Here are a number of fundamental provisions to be included in the articles of the Constitution. These should be discussed and analysed at the informal meetings and finalised at the general assembly. The final wording should be seen by a lawyer.
- Name, and emblem, of the Association.
- Objectives and Powers.
- Registered Offices of the Association.
- The Association’s income.
- Categorisation and definition of members (qualified licensed Guides), into active, ordinary, temporary, honorary etc. Each country has its own categories and characterisations.
- Regulations of admission, resignation and expulsion of members.
- Rights and obligations of members.
- Management of the Association and the number of members on the Committee.
- Elections and rules for the election of the Committee and its composition.
- Terms of office for the Committee, its duties and functions, and provisions for the filling of vacancies.
- Meetings of the Executive Committee and extraordinary meetings.
- Conduct of business and minutes.
- Outline of the functions of the President, Secretary, etc.
- Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings. Functions, notices, agenda, quorum, convening, resolutions, voting procedures.
- Financial administration and accounting, the beginning and end of the financial year, payments, budget and annual reporting to members.
- Any supplementary provisions such as the emblem of the Association, amendments to the rules, dissolution of the association, disposal of assets, and transitional provisions.
The agenda for the first meeting could he divided into two parts concerning : (a) the discussion of the basic ideas concerning the setting up of the Association, its objectives etc. And (b) the formal part of the General Meeting for approving the constitution, electing the Committee to be in charge until the next Annual General Meeting, approving the budget, and fixing the subscription and annual fees, if any.
1. Welcoming and presentation of the Chairman, Secretary and treasurer of the Temporary Committee.
2. Purpose of the meeting. Aims and potential of the Association.
3. Explanation of links that have already been made with the Tourist Board and other authorities, and outline of future co-operation.
4. General discussion of the constitution.
5. Discussion of financial matters.
After the discussion, by show of hands all the Guides present will indicate their desire to form and join the Association, so that the first general meeting can start. Make sure that all the Guides present are qualified and meet the requirements of the future constitution.
1. Approval of Constitution. It is usually best to read the Constitution article by article, and once approved it could be signed at the end by all those present. Make sure that you have the minimum number necessary.
2.1 Election of the first Committee
2.2 Election of the President and other positions within the Committee. This can be done in one of two ways. The members elect the President, then the treasurer, secretary and councillors (usually 2-4) or elect 5 to 7 members in the committee, and they in turn can decide among themselves who will be president, secretary and treasurer during their first committee meeting. The way this will be done should be defined in the constitution and should be announced in advance.
3. Budget and Fees. After the elections you should set the annual subscription. Start with a low but realistic amount, allowing for legal proceedings, committee expenses and any other services to the members. A bank account in the name of the Association should then be opened. Cheques are normally signed by two or three committee members, the Chairman, Treasurer and/or Secretary. The bank may require a copy of the relevant minutes and specimen signatures. Whatever the procedure, all expenses must be accounted for and backed by receipts. It is best to seek the advice of a professional accountant/auditor to keep a check on the accounts. Those present at the first meeting should be asked to pay their subscription fee at the meeting so that the Association can get going. Remind the members that normally the subscription can be accounted for as a professional expense to be claimed from the income tax.
4. Outline of the proposed future activities of the Committee, i.e. Meetings, social events, newsletter, publicity, list of Guides, lectures, outings, etc. Be modest with the aims until the Association is financially established. The members of the Committee do not usually get paid for their work but their expenses are reimbursed. Remember that successful Committees are those who involve other members in helping with various activities such as mailing etc, creating sub-committees to deal with specific projects.
5. Any other suggestions for the future activities of the Association.
Some useful points in the pursuit of legal recognition of the Tourist Guide profession and the School of Guides
These points may serve as an outline for those Associations seeking recognition from Tourist Authorities, and protection of the Tourist Guide profession through the enactment of legislation and appropriate governmental decisions. The law regulating the Tourist Guide profession may include the following:
» Definition and interpretation of the term “Tourist Guide”. (See next heading Training Tourist Guides).
» Tourist Guide License and Revocation.
Prerequisites and qualifications for granting a license to a Guide.
- Should be a graduate of a School of Guides or equivalent institution.
- Should speak at least two foreign languages*
- Should not have a criminal record or court convictions.
- Should attend post graduate tutorials.
- Duties of the Tourist Guide and System of Supervision. Tourist Guides should comply with the provisions of the law and the regulations of a Tourist organisation whose function is to supervise Guides in the exercise of their profession.
*It is advisable to have a regulation protecting the consumer (tourist) from having to listen to the same description of locations in a number of different languages especially on short tours.