Proposed Amendments to the Singapore Tourism Board Act

MTI

Ministry of Trade and Industry - Industry Division

Consultation Period: 22 Nov 2013 - 13 Dec 2013
Status: Closed
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Summary

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) are seeking feedback on proposed amendments to the Singapore Tourism Board Act (STB Act) to strengthen the tourist guide (TG) regulatory framework.

Detailed Description

The public consultation exercise on the proposed amendments to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) Act is now closed. The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and STB would like to thank all who have participated in the exercise.

All feedback received will be reviewed and considered before finalising the proposed legislative amendments. A summary of the feedback received, together with our responses, will be shared through the REACH website in the first half of 2014.


Aim

1.  The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) are seeking feedback on proposed amendments to the Singapore Tourism Board Act (STB Act) to strengthen the tourist guide (TG) regulatory framework.

 A Holistic Review of the Tourist Guide Industry

2.  A key thrust of our quality tourism growth strategy is to create high quality, authentic and differentiated travel experiences for tourists. Tourist guides (TGs) play a crucial role in curating and delivering such content, given their direct interface with tourists.

3.  Today, the TG industry comprises some 2,300 licensed TGs.  They are regulated through a licensing framework under the STB Act and its subsidiary legislation.  Licensing ensures that TGs have the requisite knowledge, language proficiency and professional conduct.

4.  MTI and STB have been engaging TGs, travel agents and other tourism stakeholders as part of a comprehensive review of the TG industry structure, capabilities and regulatory framework.  The aim is to raise the professionalism and profile of the industry so that TGs continue to contribute to building Singapore's positive image as a tourist destination, and benefit from Singapore's quality tourism growth and the opportunities it brings.

Strengthening Regulatory Regime

5.  Establishing an effective and updated regulatory regime is essential to enable a strong and healthy development of the TG industry in Singapore.  MTI and STB have reviewed the existing regulatory regime and are proposing legislative changes to strengthen the regulations against illegal guiding.

6.  In recent years, the problem of unlicensed guiding has become more apparent due to the rapid growth in visitor arrivals since 2010. Such guides have been known to misrepresent Singapore's history and culture to tourists. Unlike licensed tour guides, they are not subject to language proficiency, content knowledge and professional conduct requirements that are essential for them to be tourism ambassadors of Singapore. Such unlicensed activity can not only tarnish Singapore's image but also impede the professional development of the industry and licensed TGs. It is therefore necessary to enhance enforcement against illegal guiding activities.  Amendments to the STB Act and subsidiary legislation are needed to address current limitations in STB's regulatory framework and to effectively tackle unlicensed guiding.

7.  To strengthen STB's investigative powers against illegal guiding, MTI and STB are proposing to amend the STB Act so that STB can, when necessary, search premises, question, take evidence and detain suspects who refuse to cooperate with STB during investigations, or where STB reasonably believes that unlicensed guiding has taken place.  Furthermore, changes are proposed to the legislation to add a presumption of remuneration under certain circumstances, and to enable composition of offences to help STB take swifter enforcement action against offenders.  Other proposed amendments include updating the types of guiding offences to keep pace with the modus operandi of unlicensed guiding, raising the maximum penalty for unlicensed guiding and related offences to maintain their deterrent effect and repealing outdated provisions.

Detailed Reference Material

8. Please refer to the frequently asked questions at Annex A and the proposed legislative changes at Annexes B-1 and B-2 for more details.

9.  Please note that this draft amendment to the STB Act is released only for the purpose of consultation and does not represent the final legislation.  All comments received during the consultation exercise will be reviewed thoroughly and, if accepted, will be incorporated into the Bill for introduction in Parliament.

 Submission of Comments

10.  We welcome your comments and feedback on the proposed amendments to the STB Act. Please send your comments by 13 December 2013, 5pm to the following email address: mti_feedback@mti.gov.sg

11.  To facilitate collation of your feedback, please organise your submissions as follows:

 a. Identify yourself and the organisation you represent (if any), as that would assist in our understanding of the impact of the proposed changes to different stakeholder groups; and

  b. Where feasible, identify the specific section of the Bill which you are commenting on.

Summary of Responses

12.  While we will not be able to separately address or acknowledge every single comment we receive, we will consolidate and publish a summary of the key comments received, together with our responses, on the REACH website after the consultation exercise closes.  Thank you.