Unlicensed Tour Guides Not Allowed in Savannah: New at Reason

Would you trust a tour guide who wasn't licensed?

John Stossel writes:

Michelle Freenor's business almost failed before it began.

That would have been a loss, since her Savannah, Georgia, walking tour gets only good reviews from customers. "Top notch tour guide giving us a lot of history of Savannah's Historic District," said one five-star Yelp review. "Great, informative," said another.

But that didn't matter to Savannah politicians. They said she had to get a government license if she wanted to charge people for tours. And getting the license was difficult.

She had to pay $100 and then "pass a college-level history exam with tons of obscure gotcha questions," Freenor told us. Passing required "three to five months of studying because it was about 120 pages. I had to map out where I was standing, what I was saying."

It's one more example of abuse of licensing rules. Dick Carpenter, author of the book Bottleneckers, lists how these regulations strangle new businesses.

"She also had to do a criminal background check, which meant she had to give a urine sample and a blood sample." Carpenter told me. "She also had to go through a physical fitness test."

No matter, said the city, you must pass the test and you must pay the fee.

View this article.