Tour Guides Exempt From License Renewal Fee

YERUSHALAYIM -

​​The Economic Affairs Committee unanimously approved on Monday the Tourism Ministry’s request to amend the Tourism Services Regulations dealing with tour guides. According to the approved proposal, the licenses of tour guides for 2022 will be extended without a fee, in light of the financial harm caused to tour guides in Israel due to the corona pandemic.

MK Limor Magen Telem (Yisrael Beytenu), who filled in for Committee Chair MK Michael Biton, said there are currently some 8,300 licensed tour guides in Israel who are required to renew their licenses once every two years at a cost of NIS 267. She noted that only 11,000 tourists visited Israel in 2021, compared with 4.5 million in 2019. “The tour guides cannot make a living, and we must give them additional assistance,” she said.

Yonatan Shapira, chair of Moreshet Derech – Israel Incoming Tour Guides Association, welcomed the approval of the amended regulations and urged the committee to hold a separate meeting on the overall situation of tour guides in Israel and professional training options for them.

Ganit Peleg, chair of the Tour Guides Association, said with tears in her eyes: “Every day we encounter cases of tour guides who are starving. Last night I spoke with a 70-year-old tour guide who wants to sell her home because at the supermarket she has to count the apples she needs to buy. I want us to meet as soon as possible to discuss the issue of how to compensate them and how we can allow these people to hold their heads high again. These are people who provide for their families, and their entire lives are dedicated to the love of Israel and to giving it a good name. Their world stopped in one day, and they found themselves hopeless, because there is no permanent policy. If a change is made, then it is canceled the next day, and what little hope they had is lost.”

MK Samy Abu Shahadeh (Joint List) called to hold meetings on the treatment of workers in the tourism industry as soon as possible, while MK Vladimir Beliak (Yesh Atid) said, “One cannot remain indifferent to the pain of the tour guides. While it is true that we are in a time of very difficult uncertainty, the policy of the government, since its inception, has been to prevent financial harm and avoid lockdowns. I hope the skies will reopen in the coming week. We will make an effort to preserve daily life as much as possible, and also to compensate these dear people.”