Preventing undeclared work among tour guides, Lithuania
The Tourism and Promotion Division of Vilnius has been organising campaigns against the undeclared work of tour guides in the capital city of Lithuania since 2002. These campaigns aim to reduce the number of illegally operating guides in the capital, to secure the labour market for these workers, and to ensure the provision of professional information on the city and its history to tourists. The measure has been welcomed by legitimate tour guides.
With a view to securing the labour market for tour guides in Lithuania, the Tourism and Promotion Division (Turizmo ir miesto įvaizdžio skyrius, TMĮS) of the Culture and Education Department (Kultūros ir ugdymo departamentas, KUD) of the Administration of Vilnius city municipality (Vilniaus miesto savivaldybė, VMS) has been organising campaigns to prevent undeclared work among guides (nelegalios gidų veiklos prevencijos akcijos) in Vilnius since 2002. The actions include inspecting whether tour guides in the capital city have obligatory licences issued by the Lithuanian State Department of Tourism (Lietuvos Valstybinis turizmo departamentas, LVTD), distributing special notices about the work of guides in Vilnius and indicating administrative liability for undeclared work among guides.
Organisations involved in the preventive activities against this undeclared work of tour guides are TMĮS, the Vilnius Tourist Information Centre (Vilniaus turizmo informacijos centras, VTIC), the Union of Lithuanian Guides (Lietuvos gidų sąjunga), the Community of Lithuanian Guides (Lietuvos gidų bendrija) and the Vilnius City Public Police (Vilniaus miesto viešoji policija, VMVP).
The primary goal of the initiative is to reduce the number of illegally operating tour guides in the capital city of Lithuania and to secure the labour market for these workers. At the same time, the project seeks to ensure the provision of objective and professional information on the city and its history to tourists in Vilnius. In addition, the programme aims to provide illegally working guides with information about valid procedures in this field of economic activity in Lithuania.
During the main tourist season, between May and September, tour guides working in the Old Town of Vilnius and other historical parts of the city are inspected to ensure that they have the obligatory licences issued by LVTD. These licences are issued to graduates of special training courses for guides held every year by VTIC and other tourism organisations and companies.
Guides identified during these inspection campaigns as conducting tours without this licence are made familiar with Chapter IV, Article 8, of the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on Tourism, which stipulates that individuals may only work as guides in Lithuania having obtained the necessary qualification and licence issued by LVTD. Furthermore, illegally working guides are given special notices about tour guide services in Vilnius in five languages – Lithuanian, English, German, Polish and Russian. The notices contain information about the following:
- statutory provisions regulating the work of tour guides in Lithuania;
- penalties for undeclared work of guides stipulated in the Code of Administrative Violations of Law;
- a list of locations in the city of Vilnius where only licensed guides are allowed to conduct their professional activities;
- references on how to hire a guide in Vilnius.
Evaluation and outcome
Achievement of objectives
When the preventive campaigns against undeclared work of tour guides commenced, at least five or six unlicensed guides would be identified out of every 30 to 50 guides inspected during each campaign. However, the number of illegally operating guides has declined on a year-to-year basis. In 2007 – for the first time – not a single guide was identified as working without the special licence. As these campaigns are continued, the number of identified cases of undeclared work of guides decreases.
The campaigns organised by the above institutions are warmly welcomed by legally working tour guides in Vilnius. It was mainly their complaints that served as a basis for commencing the campaigns in 2002. According to the legitimate guides, the inspections are highly beneficial and help to protect their interests. The initiatives contribute to raising awareness as to who can work as a guide, what authorities provide training to potential guides and what documents are required. Both tour guides and tourists are made aware of the valid procedure in Lithuania; they can then spread this information on a wider scale.
Obstacles and problems
According to the campaign organisers, the main problem impeding effective implementation of preventive campaigns against undeclared work of tour guides is that the inspectors are not authorised to impose penalties on illegal guides. Therefore, the latter can only be made familiar with the procedure valid in Lithuania.
The outcomes of the campaigns prove them to be useful and positive, since the number of illegally working tour guides is declining.
In the opinion of the campaign organisers, the efficiency of the initiative would be enhanced if penalties could be imposed on illegally working guides instead of merely giving notice to them. Some guides who are illegally conducting tours agree to take on board the established procedure and thank the inspector for the useful information, while others react angrily and oppose the established procedure. In such cases, it is highly probable that illegal tour guides will continue with their undeclared work, being aware that the only sanction is a caution and that no penalties will be imposed on them.
A positive impact of the programme is not only the decreasing number of illegally working tour guides – it also has a positive effect on other persons legally employed in Lithuania. Moreover, the initiative demonstrates to society and tourists the efforts being made to protect the image of the city of Vilnius, with particular attention being paid to how the city is presented to its guests.
No specific evaluations have been made of the impact of the campaigns. However, their effectiveness is evidenced by the declining number of illegally working tour guides.
It is likely that campaigns of this type are fully transferable and could be applied in other countries supporting the approach that guided tours should be conducted by persons holding a special licence valid in the country concerned.
Jurga Pociūtė, Chief Expert of Tourism and Promotion Division of the Culture and Education Department of the Administration of Vilnius city municipality
Code of Administrative Violations of Law of the Republic of Lithuania, 2008.
Law on Tourism of the Republic of Lithuania, 1998.
Tourism and Promotion Division of the Culture and Education Department of the Administration of Vilnius city municipality, ‘On suspending illegal activities of guides in Vilnius city’, official reports, 2003–2008.
Tourism and Promotion Division of the Culture and Education Department of the Administration of Vilnius city municipality, press releases.
Inga Blažienė, Institute of Labour and Social Research