Licensing to Give Tours?

Research Shows It Doesn’t Work

This October, IJ’s strategic research team released an innovative study examining the effects of our 2014 federal court victory that struck down Washington, D.C.’s tour guide license as unconstitutional.

In addition to vindicating the First Amendment right of tour guides to speak for a living, the ruling created ideal conditions for a before-and-after study of a policy change IJ brought about. In Putting Licensing to the Test: How Licenses for Tour Guides Fail Consumers—and Guides, Senior Research Analyst Angela C. Erickson examined 15,000 TripAdvisor reviews and found that customers rated guided tours just as highly after the District stopped licensing guides as they did before.

Instead of ensuring quality tours—D.C.’s claimed rationale—the license only created needless barriers to work. These findings add to a growing body of research that finds licensing’s costs often outweigh its purported benefits. IJ will use these results to bolster our tour guide and other occupational licensing challenges nationwide.

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