There can be no new tour guides without a national law: the Council of State ruling

The Council of State issued a ruling that it is up to the state to decide the standards for licensing tour guides.

A ruling by the Council of State (number 05213/2020, published on August 26) is bound to cause much discussion in the tour guide environment, since it sanctions, unequivocally, that new tour guides cannot be licensed without a national law, which is currently lacking, however. First, however, the facts: in April 2019, the Metropolitan City of Reggio Calabria had published a call for new tour guides, drafted according to the old laws that provided for qualification based on regional laws. Law No. 97 of August 6, 2013, introduced a status of the guide that transcends regional boundaries (the so-called “national guide”), and as a result all regional rules on access to the profession are to be considered superseded (and therefore the call for applications is illegitimate, according to the Council of State).

An association (AGTA - Associazione Guide Turistiche Abilitate) and a labor union (UILTUCS) had appealed to the Calabria Regional Administrative Court, which had agreed with them: in turn, the Region of Calabria appealed to the Council of State, which, however, upheld the judgment of the Regional Administrative Court: “the regulation of the tourist professions,” the ruling reads, “does not fall under the subject ’tourism,’ but under the subject ’professions,’ with the consequence that the state is entitled to dictate general principles on the subject; it therefore affirmed that the splitting on a regional basis of access to the profession of tourist guide was expunged from the system by Law Aug. 6, 2013, no. 97 (European Law 2013), which, all’allart. 3, establishes how labilitazione to the profession of tourist guide is valid throughout the national territory (equalizing also the citizen of the E.U. qualified in another Member State).” Again, the Tar ruled, “the result is an overall arrangement that excludes regional legislative competence in the matter of qualification for the profession of tourist guide, without the condition of inertia of the state legislature being validly opposed.”

In essence, the Council of State has effectively ruled that a state exam will be needed to be a tour guide, just as is the case for lawyers, journalists and other professional categories: regions will therefore no longer be able to license guides. The problem, however, is that there is a lack of a national law, so in theory, in the absence of a law, licensing is de facto blocked: a situation that therefore certainly creates discouragement for the many aspiring tour guides all over Italy, and certainly encourages squatting. But the ruling could be a viaticum for the long-awaited national law that the sector has been waiting for since 2013.

“We are not happy with the situation, far from it,” comments Isabella Ruggiero, president of AGTA, who expresses satisfaction on the one hand because the ruling affirms the principles established in 2013 and therefore helps to bring order, and concern on the other. “We find ourselves in a very serious legislative vacuum, where previous regional regulations are now repealed and new national ones are missing,” Ruggiero continues. “If we don’t urgently make a law to reorganize the profession (and I stress, a reorganization law, not 20 lines of a Band-Aid article so we can say something has been done and go on like a year ago) we risk a total deregulation of the sector. We hope, however, that this ruling will help speed up the work. We are ready to work with Mibact and the regions in a constructive way to finally arrive at a result.”

Ruggiero let it be known that AGTA wanted to block the call for bids not to oppose the new qualifications (“we have always asked, in our proposals to the Ministry,” he stressed, “that the calls for bids be held every year or maximum every two years, to ensure easy access to all”), but because “since 2013, since the qualifications, which were previously provincial or regional, were extended to the entire national territory, there has been a complete lack of regulations defining how one becomes a guide: the qualifications for access, the type of exams, etc.”

“First,” AGTA’s president explains in conclusion, “it is necessary for the state to dictate the standards of the profession, then licenses can be issued based on those standards. Instead, many regions in recent years have continued to do so but without being legitimized to do so, because on the basis of missing decrees. In addition, not only have some regions continued to issue habilitations, but each in the same manner that they used before the 2013 law. So in recent years thousands of licenses have been given between Tuscany, Emilia Romagna, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily and a few other regions, using completely different criteria, even though they knew that each of those guides would then be able to go and practice all over Italy. So part got their labilitation by passing only quizzes, part only an oral exam, part only a course, part even following simple guided tours: all this although the title issued is considered uniform throughout Italy. It is as if in order to practice as a doctor, it is accepted that some have passed 3 exams, others 10, still others 3 years of coursework, and so on.”

There can be no new tour guides without a national law: the Council of State ruling
There can be no new tour guides without a national law: the Council of State ruling

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