January 14, 2016 6:14 pm
Updated: January 14, 2016 8:21 pm

Quebec City council grapples with tour guide permits

WATCH ABOVE: Quebec City is back pedalling on a decision to suspend a bylaw that requires tour guides to have official permits in the fear that it will deter international tourism companies from coming to the historic city. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports.

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QUEBEC CITY – It seems Quebec City is back-pedalling on a decision to suspend the bylaw that requires tour guides to have official permits.

To become a tour guide in Quebec City, people need to take an in-class or online 150-hour course in order to receive a permit.

It’s a system that Gerald Boudreau, a tourism operator with Maple Leaf Guide Tourists, said ensures quality control.

“Vancouver was actually looking forward to doing the same thing as we were. Toronto and Ottawa were actually envious of our permit,” he said.

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“The guide’s permit gives them a background check for criminal cases; that’s very important. We deal with a lot with student groups here.”

However, city council recently suspended the bylaw that requires guides to be licensed.

Now, they say permits will be needed in 2016, but they don’t know after that.

“We received criticism from the associations: Canada tourism and Quebec tourism,” explained Quebec City councillor Julie Lemieux.

One concern comes from Asian tourism operators, an emerging player in the industry, whose guides felt harassed when stopped by police on the street.

“There’s a police officer who’s coming to him and asking him for the permit, but he doesn’t understand because he doesn’t speak English and he doesn’t speak French. He doesn’t know what’s happening,” Lemieux said.

The councillor said she feared those types of altercations were creating a negative image of the city and added that some tourism companies threatened to take Quebec City off their list of destinations.

But the Quebec City Tour Guide Association takes issue with the city’s logic.

“If they don’t speak English or French, how do they take care of links with hotels, restaurants? That’s their role,” said the association’s president Marie Legroulx.

“They’re like mothers in the bus. They cannot do that job without either speaking French or English.”

The city plans to hold consultations with stakeholders in the near future.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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