PRETORIA, South African Alusshca Ritchie has been appointed by the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations as its new President.

Ritchie, a registered tourist guide for Western Cape Province, was appointed to head the internationally recognized body at the 17th biennial World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations Convention, which took place in Tehran, Iran, recently.

Ritchie has been a wine specialist for the last six years. She owns and manages a tourism business and has served as the Chairperson of the Cape Tourist Guides Association, a director on the Cape Town Tourism Board and as the Western Cape Representative of the South African Travel Services Association.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom Wednesday congratulated Ritchie on her appointment. “We are very proud of this global leadership achievement. This presents another opportunity for us to elevate the status of the guiding profession and to acknowledge the important role that our tourist guides play in providing superb visitor experiences,” said Hanekom.

The WFTGA is a not-for-profit, non-political organization comprising tourist guide associations, individual tourist guides, educational institutions and other members who have a direct or indirect association with tourist guides. It is an Affiliate Member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The President of the WFTGA serves for a two-year term and is supported by an Executive Board made up of delegates from Australia, Iran, the United States, Canada and Britain. The convention in Tehran, which was attended by about 350 participants and delegates from more than 40 countries, was opened by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The Vice-President and Head of Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization, Zahra Ahmadi Pour, and the Secretary-General of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai, also attended the convention.

“I look forward to representing all tourist guides on an international platform. This will be a great opportunity to learn and to promote a sector which is very rarely recognised as a profession, although it is an integral component of the tourism value chain,” Ritchie said.