Yesterday, City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill in city council that would require the city’s tour guides to be certified yearly. Reynolds Brown, didn’t specify what the penalty would be for running an unlicensed tour, but I assume it’s torture.
Today, the Inquirer gets the reaction from the city’s best historical figure impersonators, including Ralph Archbold, aka Ben Franklin. Archbold says he cringes when he once heard a duck boat driver refer to an old-timey guy as a pirate. Oh no! The tour driver on the tour where riders get quacking whistles to blow the entire time isn’t entirely accurate!
Reynolds Brown defended the measure by saying “cities like” Williamsburg, Va., and Savannah, Ga., have these laws. Then she revealed the penalty: $300. Yep, it could be a law in Philadelphia to run a tour company without a license. Oh, and there’s an application fee, too. Of course there’s an application fee! The money to pay Reynolds Brown doesn’t grow on historical trees!
The Inquirer’s Julie Stoiber also has some key background details:
Brown became interested in the issue after receiving a letter from Ron Avery, a retired Daily News reporter who now gives tours, in which he complained about clueless guides.
“In this city anyone can be a guide – even if they just stepped off a train from Minnesota and could not find Broad Street with a map,” he wrote.
Apparently, Ron Avery isn’t familiar with the American Dream, that one day a little boy can grow up and move from Minnesota via train and become a tour guide in Philadelphia right away. And one tour company, Centipede, Inc., has a 34-part manual for guides to study, as well as a three-hour test with questions like: “In what ways has Philadelphia been important in the field of medicine?”
But it’s tour guide Camilla Beuchat who gives perhaps this most honest view:
“I’d love to be forced to learn more than I already know,” said Beuchat.
Tell me about it. I can’t even read a book unless somebody forces me to do it.
Should city tour guides be licensed? [Inquirer]
Yesterday: City Council To Improve Citizens’ Lives Again