Is licensing necessary to provide quality control amongst tour guides? Does requiring licensing violate would-be tour-guides' right to freedom of speech?
Many major tourist destinations, including New Orleans, Savannah, St. Augustine, Washington, D.C., require tour operators to pass a knowledge-based test and a criminal background check, as well as pay a licensing fee (ranging from less than $10 in some cities, to more than $200 in others) to be in compliance with local law.
Critics of licensing argue that with the popularity of online reviews, those giving substandard tours will not be in business for long, and licensing doesn't provide true quality control. Proponents argue that the background checks involved in many cities' licensing process help to protect the public, and that cities have a vested interest in being represented by guides who can prove they know the facts surrounding the area's history.
The United States Supreme Court may soon address the issue. Click here to read what's at stake.
Photo courtesy of Destination DC.