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Naked special pleading corner

Care of the Unite website, I discover a huge wrong that needs to be righted. Apparently.

"Proposals by the London Development Agency to spend £2m to lure tourists to such sites as the hotel room in which Oscar Wilde was arrested, have been welcomed by Unite, which embraces the Association of Professional Tourist Guides (APTG).

But Unite/APTG, whose members hold the top Blue Badge qualification, said that there should be a proper regulatory framework to stop tourists being ‘ripped off’ by people masquerading as professional tourist guides".


"Unite/APTG Joint Chair, Tony McDonnell said: ‘Greater regulation of the tourist guiding industry is very important. A professional tourist guide can enhance your enjoyment and experience of London; an untrained guide can ruin your day with their haphazard knowledge and make a serious dent in your wallet.’

‘Due to our training, the London Blue Badge tourist guides know so much more about the lesser known parts of London. Not just that Oscar Wilde was arrested on 5 April, 1895 at the Cadogan Hotel in Sloane Street, but which royal mistress also lived there.’"

Perhaps I am being naive, but surely the best qualification for being a tour guide is to be both knowledgeable and a skillful raconteur, rather than having a certificate from a self-serving restrictive guild. I do not think that regulating and restricting entry into this line of work is the most pressing issue of the day, and I am intrigued by the notion that one's day could be 'ruined' by haphazard knowledge, as presumably one would not be taking the tour if one already knew all the facts, and what one does not know is unlikely to cause the ruination of a day or, come to that, any other period of time.

For what it is worth, some time back I went on a guided tour of political London accompanied by someone of a non-British persuasion, and got to fill in a few gaps for the guide, who I suspect had one of the much vaunted blue badges.

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Anonymous Andrew said... 5:00 pm

"Not just that Oscar Wilde was arrested on 5 April, 1895 at the Cadogan Hotel in Sloane Street, but which royal mistress also lived there.’"

Lilly Langtry, and considering there is a blue plaque attached to the hotel saying "Lilly Langtry lived here", I am not sure why I need a 'professional' to tell me?  

Blogger Croydonian said... 5:25 pm

A well-timed piece of inside knowledge. Thank you.  

Anonymous Andrew said... 5:40 pm

It's not inside knowledge - it's wikipedia  

Blogger Croydonian said... 6:05 pm

The blogger's - and everybody else's - friend.  

Blogger Alan Crowe said... 11:31 am

There is a problem. The free market works best with repeat business, but tourists come and go. Laissez-faire will not work well.

Fortunately there is a solution already in place: trade marks. Regulation stops people pretending to to Blue Badge to which they are not entitled.

The cleverness of this solution lies in its indirectness. It is up to the holders of the Blue Badge to make and preserve the value of the trade mark by providing a good service.

The evil of trade union proposal lies in breaking contestibility; no-one will be permitted to set up a rival Red Badge scheme. However, zero regulation, without even the protection of trade-marks, is a poor option that gives the free market a bad reputation.

If you wish to oppose regulation you need to educate the public on the difference between the rare shrewd regulations that actually help, and the bogus regulations that we usually end up with.  

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