Salzburg Guides – Competence or Criminal?

Salzburg Guides are not very nice. Every time I travel to Salzburg with my guests, I am taken aback. To be fair, let me fill you in on some background about this nightmarish situation.

I have been wanting to write about this for four years now. It’s finally time. Every time I have a bad experience here, I think to myself “next time will be better”. Truth is, we have a social problem here that nobody wants to talk about.

Salzburg, like other cities in Europe, has a monopoly on their guided city tours. Rome, Florence, and Vienna are the same. This has been going on in Europe for many years. Speaking of monopoly, the church also claims to have a monopoly on the one and only God. This is the case for all monopolists, they all claim to have “The best of the best of whatever”.

Do monopolists care about quality?

Definitely not. Free market and competition leads to better quality, while monopolists just want control of the market prices. This is what’s happening in Salzburg. They care more about cornering the market and scaring away non-city guides, then they do about giving the customer the best (boring) experience possible.

Bringing guests from Munich to the city of Salzburg requires a licence to bring guests across European borders. To make sure that I have all needed documents for my license, I work about three months a year. It takes the WKS (Wirtschaftskammer Salzburg) many months to approve the licenses. To be fair, they do allow you to bring guests to Salzburg after entering the request in their online form.

Having the proper documents shouldn’t be a problem to bring guests to our neighbouring country, many may think, but the fun has just begun as this is just the formal part.

Kinds of tours

When you book an official Salzburg Guide, he or she may tell you about history and regale you with dates, names and historical facts. This is the official tour. People from the neighbouring country like myself, we serve the orientation tour. On the way to Salzburg, we take time to inform the guest about the same historical facts. Once we arrive in the city, we tour you around, connecting the information with a city map. Usually after about three hours, we pick up the guests and drive back home.

Do you really want to have a history class during your vacation? I really doubt it.

May I ask you

Attacks against tourists

Yes, this may happen. Citizens of Salzburg are occasionally known to argue randomly with people in tour groups. I have often found myself apologizing to my guests for the rude behaviour of the locals. But to be rude is not a crime, I know.

During your visit to Salzburg you may experience rude waiters, rude bus drivers and rude citizens. This hurts the good name of the city and gives a wrong impression of the locals. There are however many businesses that try to show customers, through the best possible service and politeness, that they are welcome.

I finally went inside to order drinks at the bar. However, no one was working the bar either. I approached a female server inside the restaurant to ask about ordering a drink. She said "we are closing in a little while." I asked "can I order a glass of wine?" No kidding, she looked me right in the eye and said "no," straight up.
JDM101 for TripAdvisor

Many Americans report being quite disappointed about some experiences in this city, especially when thinking about the gracious Julie Andrews singing and dancing around fountains with seven children. Your experience in Salzburg may be a bit more nightmarish than that, when you find a local Salzburg guide harassing your own tour guide for absolutely no reason.

The locals in Salzburg were the rudest when compared to all the places that we visited.
Patricia S. for TripAdvisor

Mafia System without consequences

The tour-guide monopoly may be one of the reasons it is difficult to bring guests to Salzburg. In addition to the monopoly and the public fights with Salzburg Guides, what makes it difficult to bring guests to Salzburg is the lack of politeness, that we sometimes are forced to show. They see me, or any guide with a group and attack the guide screaming horrible things like “illegal workers”, “Thieves from abroad” or even “Halts Maul Du Schwuchtel”, which means “Shut up, you Sissy”. I experienced this myself. Homophobic slurs are not rare in this city. There are laws against verbal attacks in Europe, but they are not effective, when the police refuse to enforce them.

The first time I experienced this, I went to the police station and asked for help. They checked me and my documents as if I was the aggressor, not the victim. Two of my 3 hours off were spent at the police station with nothing to show for it. The second time, they just called the Salzburger Guides organization and reported that I have all my papers, but no fine was given and justice was not served.

When experiencing this for the first time, I visited the police station and asked for help. They checked me and my papers like I was the aggressor and not the victim. From my three hours free time, I was two hours in the Police Station without any results. The second time they just called the Salzburger Guides organisation and reported that I have all my papers, but no notice for the justice was made.

I tried to initiate legal proceedings at the courts, but they also refused and sent me back to the police. (What a surprise.)

Salzburg works hard at keeping bad reports hidden away from the press. If you consult all the regional newspapers, not one of them ever reported any problems between Salzburg Guides and foreign guides. In my network alone, I know of over twenty guides, who experienced this kind of aggression and harassment.

During a recent event, a tourist asked me: “Do you know how can I reach Mozart’s birthplace?”. Since I am always on duty I kindly told him where to find it on the map and informed him, that my group was going to be going close to this address, so he could follow us. No money transactions, just a favour to a person in need. All of a sudden one of the Salzburg Guides jumped from her seat in the bus and started to attack me and accuse me of being a “foreign illegal worker”, she screamed many times, that I don’t pay taxes (never mind that she had a bag, that was definitely bought off of Amazon, which we all know don’t pay taxes). In the end, she didn’t take care of the city visitor and refused to give her name for my report.

Three years ago the head of the Salzburg Guides offered me to be part of their club, all I had to do was take in their seminar which was to cost 2.000 €. To me, this seems like a bribe for their protection. It made me feel like a cheap hooker working the streets.

Is Salzburg worth a visit?

Yes, I love this city and the past that connects it with Bavaria, but I strongly disapprove the attitude they have towards foreign guides and guests.

Enjoy the city and if you meet any of those rude people from the Salzburg Guides just say three times “Julie, Julie, Julie” and dream of the sound of music.

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