Postprint of: Huang, S & Weiler, B 2010, 'A review and evaluation of China’s quality assurance system for tour guiding', Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 18, no. 7, pp. 845-860.
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This paper evaluates the effectiveness of China's tour guiding quality assurance system as an instrument for sustainable tourism. It notes the importance of China's 131,000 tour guides for inbound, outbound and domestic tourism. China's tour guiding quality assurance and regulatory mechanisms are then reviewed, including qualification examination, licensing, professional certification, training, awards for excellence, professional associations and codes of conduct. Structurally, China's comprehensive and comparatively regulated system may be recommendable to other countries, particularly its certification and licensing systems. However, the findings suggest that tour guide quality assurance in China may be constrained by an over-reliance on government and the absence of industry-driven mechanisms for some elements such as monitoring, enforcement and rewarding excellence. Most importantly, the focus of China's quality assurance system is on a limited number of tour guiding roles and tends to overlook those most critical to harnessing the guide as a vehicle for sustainable tourism. Key future development areas could extend recognition and reward for the guide's performance as a role model, advocate, mentor, interpreter, cultural broker and environmental monitor.