A professional Tourist Guide is a person who has completed the relevant training in their given city and/or country. Should you wish to become a Tourist Guide, ensure that you meet the required qualification as per your city and country.
In some countries it is law and is a regulated industry. Refer to your local Tourist Guide Association for the correct qualifications and licences in your location.
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Greece is one of the countries in which the tourist guide profession is regulated by the state, which holds the exclusive authority for the quality assurance in the profession. Therefore, the tourist guide training in Greece is provided by the state, in the Tourist Guides’ Schools, which operate under the Ministry of Tourism. Candidates for admission must be qualified at level C2 in at least one foreign language, while extra credits are awarded for additional and uncommon foreign languages. Foreign national candidates must provide at least a level C1 certification in the Greek language.
The curriculum of the Tourist Guides’ Schools is manifold and rigorous. Attendance lasts for two years, with the 1.465 training hours allotted approximately 60% to theoretical training and 40% to practical training, including 65 days of field trips.
The curriculum breakdown is as follows:
The lessons of the Schools are compulsory to attend and are:
- Prehistoric archaeology – 80 hours in class and 20 hours of field lectures.
- Ancient Greek History – 50 hours in class.
- Classical Archaeology – 120 hours in class and 60 hours of field lectures.
- Ancient Greek Literature – 20 hours in class.
- The History of the Ancient Greek Theatre and Athletics – 20 hours in class.
- Byzantine History – 50 hours in class.
- Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Archaeology and Art – 100 hours in class and 30 hours of field lectures.
- History and Art of the Latin and Ottoman Rule in Greece – 40 hours in class and 5 hours of field lectures.
- Modern and Contemporary Greek History – 50 hours in class.
- Folk Art and Pre-industrial Culture – 25 hours in class and 5 hours of field lectures.
- Art History. Modern Greek Art and Architecture – 45 hours in class and 15 hours of field lectures.
- Modern Greek Literature – 10 hours in class.
- The Social and Economic Structure of Modern Greece – 20 hours.
- Geology, Paleontology and Speleology – 20 hours in class.
- Geography, Anthropography and Ecology – 40 hours in class.
- Ancient Greek Mythology – 10 hours in class.
- Tourist Guiding Techniques – 50 hours in class and 30 hours of field lectures.
- Tourism Development, Tourist Business, Tourism and Archaeological Legislation.
At the end of each year the students must sit for written examinations for each of the aforementioned modules.
Subsequently, 65 days (corresponding to 390 training hours) of field trips are implemented to numerous archaeological sites and other places of interest along the country, covering all the historical periods and a wide range of subjects. During the field trips, each student must produce four tour commentaries, which are presented in situ. The positive evaluation in this task is a perquisite for the next and final stage of qualification.
Upon the successful completion of the curriculum and the annual examinations, each student undergoes an oral diploma examination before a committee consisted of two university professors and a qualified tourist guide.
The diploma issued by the Tourist Guides’ Schools and the Ministry of Tourism is a prerequisite for the tourist guide profession practicing license in Greece, issued by the Ministry of Tourism. The extensive and inclusive curriculum and the broad geographic and thematic coverage of the field trips, corroborate the nationwide validity of the practicing license, since Tourist Guides’ Schools graduates are sufficiently equipped to guide tours anywhere in the country.
The Greek Tourist Guides’ Schools enjoy the appreciation of the tour operators, who employ the new tourist guides without any further training. Subsequently, the interest for admission in the Schools is immense, with the applications outnumbering the places available by a manifold. The high competition for entry, in combination with the high standard training provided by the Tourist Guides’ Schools, assures the high quality of the Greek tourist guides.
Panhellenic Tourist Guide Federation, Education Committee.
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The Iceland Tourist Guide School was founded in 1976. The first graduation was in May the following year. The objective of the school is to train students to become professional tourist guides who meet the industry’s standards of excellent quality. In the past, the school has focused on training guides to conduct coach tours around the whole country. However, demand has been created for training more specialised guides for the industry, namely adventure and hiking guides as well as local guides. The school has plans to offer a special course for adventure travel guides in the near future and is exploring the possibilities of distance learning.
The school follows a curriculum that is authorised by the Icelandic Ministry of Education. Much work has been done over the years to streamline the course to the industry’s needs for quality guiding. The Ministry of Tourism, the Icelandic Tourist Board, the Icelandic Tourist Guide Association and the Icelandic Tourism Business Association have all had a say in developing and approving the school’s curriculum.
Entrance requirements for the Iceland Tourist Guide School include three clearly defined criteria. The prospective student must be at least 21 years of age at the start of the course, have university entrance exemption and meet our oral language proficiency standards. Before being admitted, prospective students are interviewed and examined in an oral language test by two examiners. Many of our examiners and trainers originally come from countries abroad, such as Ireland, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Spain. Further, some of them are professional educators and translators.
Students studying at the Iceland Tourist Guide School are eligible for receiving a student loan from the Iceland Student Loan Fund like other students in Iceland studying at tertiary-level.
Course duration is one year and includes 444 contact hours. Exams and field trips are in addition. Classes are taught at night, usually from 17:30 to 22:00 in the evening – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights over 26 weeks in total. Examination period is in addition. Some Thursdays we have exams and every second Saturday we organise a field trip. The field trips during the first term include whale watching, four museums in Reykjavik and some churches, the Botanical Garden, and a full-day geological field trip to the surrounding area. In the second term there are seven practical field trips, five for training and two for exams. At the end of the course there is a supervised six-day field trip around Iceland.
Subjects include; tourist guiding techniques (presentation skills and group psychology, etc.), geology/geography, history, industries and farming, tourism, society and culture, arts, botany, ornithology, mammals in Iceland, 20 hour first aid course, area interpretation and presentation skills in the student’s elected foreign language.
Course evaluation is strict. Students must pass all individual subject exams with a mark of minimum 7 out of 10. At the end of the first term, students have to pass a language exam that covers the content of the subjects taught in the first term. At the end of the second term, students have to pass an oral language exam covering the subjects of the area interpretation in the classroom, and pass two practical oral exams in a coach. The coach oral exams include a four-hour city tour – and an eight-hour tour to Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir geothermal area and the Parliament Plains (Singvellir). During the exam trip the student’s presentation is recorded on a tape to be graded by two examiners. Field trips are compulsory and the overall attendance in the course must exceed 80%.
The final evaluation of students takes place during a 6-day tour around Iceland where they practice their presentation skills, guided by a qualified and experienced person.
The school capitalises on the professional knowledge of about 50 individuals in any given year. This year we have ten subject lecturers and ten language trainers in their respective languages. Further, we receive a wide range of guest lecturers from the industry who offer their professional knowledge and advice. During the language exams we call on ten examiners to team up with the language trainers.
I am pleased to inform, that interest in studying at the Iceland Tourist Guide School is high. This great interest in the school’s programme is a direct result of satisfied tour operators that demand their tourist guides graduate from our programme. Reinforcing this demand is a wage agreement whereby tour operators commit themselves to hire qualified tourist guides. The wage agreement is very important for tourist guides, as here in Iceland no law protects the guiding profession. To date, the school has graduated over seven hundred students of which about five hundred are members of the Icelandic Tourist Guide Association. At the start of this school year we had fifty students.
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- At this moment, there are more than 250 certified tour guides in Puerto Rico by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC); the program started in the mid 80´s.
- In order to obtain the certification, you must take at least 200 contact hours of tourism, heritage and other related courses.
- The exam consists of two parts: (1) written test and (2) oral presentation (simulating a tour).
- In the past, after the Hotel School closed, the few trainers offering the course were only looking for their students to pass the exam without taking care of the different skills that a tour guide should develop. The whole course was based on photocopy of the HANDBOOK OF PROFESSIONAL TOUR MANAGEMENT by Robert T. Reilly (1982).
- As part of the requirements for the renewal of the license (every 4 years), the PRTC offers 8 to 12 continuing education seminars during the year; you need to take at least 4 per year, henceforth, 16 seminars in a period of 4 years.
- These 1-1/2 hr. seminars are offered on Friday nights at the PRTC headquarters with different themes and speakers.
- By the ´80´s, National Park Service started their interpretation program, henceforth, only their employees were trained as site interpreters; by the end of the ´80´s, Forest Service copied the program and started offering talks and guided tours in the Caribbean National Forest.
- I was certified as a Tour Guide on 1992.
- Our Association was founded in November, 2002.
- In April, 2003, we coordinated the first interpretation workshop in Puerto Rico.
- In August, 2003, the National Association for Interpretation offered the first Certified Interpretive Guide workshop. I participated and was certified as a CGI. You don´t need to be a Tour Guide to take this 32 hrs. workshop.
- By the end of 2003, we entered in a partnership with the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez to offer continuing education workshops and trainings.
- In February, 2004, we coordinated an activity for tourism educators for the first time in Puerto Rico. During the Summer of 2004, two meetings took place at the PRTC with trainers and tourism educators. All of us evaluated the written part of the certification exam. The PRTC was looking for consistency in terms of the material that is included in the curriculum of the different institutions.
- During 2004, public hearings took place for Project 4174, which was looking for the establishment of an Examination Board for Tour Guides, We participated and asked for the tour guide definition included in the project to be changed and that instead use the definition adopted by the WFTGA. The PRTC consultant that worked with this project is now the new Executive Director of the PRTC.
- In August, 2004, we signed a contract with the PRTC to offer the first Interpretive Tour Guide Certification through the University of Puerto Rico for 14 participants of a training that was offered in the small Island of Vieques. The training consisted of 220 contact hours, of which 54% were dedicated to communication, presentation, and intepretive techniques through experiential learning. For the History of Vieques class, we hired an archeologist and the participants took the class at the archeological site. Most of them took the certification exam on March and are waiting for the results.
- In September 29, 2004, the new law was signed, but the Examination Board has not be assigned yet by the new Governor. Since there has been a delay due to the transition with the new government, this law is supposed to start on January, 2006.
- In February, 2006, we are planning to celebrate the first congress for Tour Guides.
- In May, 2006, NAI will be sponsoring a world heritage convention.
- At this moment, I´m writing a book for Tour Guides in which I´m focusing on skills and techniques.
- As a consultant, I have been asked by two universities to design a curriculum for Tour Guides.
- Also, PRTC asked us to develop a training for Certified Tour Guides and a possible Train the Trainer course for Tour Guide Trainers.
- For the Tour Guide Training, to give you an idea, I have divided it in three:
Introduction to tourism (hospitality industry, eight sectors of the h/i, touristic culture, worldwide organism and code of ethics, etc.); quality control and customer service; touristic legislation (laws and mission of all government agencies in charge of our natural and cultural heritage, plus all other laws related to the eight sectors of the hospitality industry); Tour Guide (role, characteristics, protocol, code of ethics, etc.)
Specific information related to our country (archeology, history, geography, fauna, flora, culture, socio-economy, culture, art, gastronomy, touristic information) and research.
SKILLS (experiential learning)
Communication skills (presentation, interpretation, non-verbal communication).
Excursion techniques (interpretive planning, tour coordination, group guiding, niche market and specialization, such as adventure tour guide, ecoguide, etc.).
Internship, plus field trips/excursions designed by students.
This is more or less the idea of what our Association is working with in terms of a curriculum for Tour Guides focused on skills and techniques development. We are working closely with educators and consultants from Spain and Argentina. Also, we look forward to visit the Dominican Republic to assist them with their plans to train Interpretive Tour Guide. We believe that there is no need to certify interpreters with a 32 course if the techniques are included in the curriculum.
I will appreciate your comments on the above. If you have any questions, please contact me at your convenience.
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In Scotland, potential guides must apply to the Scottish Tourist Guides Association. They are interviewed and language screened and then if accepted they go on a 4-day introductory course. They have to do presentations and a written assignment. If they pass that at minimum of 60% they are invited to become Student Associate Members of STGA.
They start the course which is run for us by the University of Edinburgh and includes Core Knowledge, Practical Skills and Regional Studies (i.e. Applied core knowledge to different parts of Scotland). The course lasts for 2 years and includes 128 hours core knowledge, 280 hours guiding skills/regional studies – this is a mixture of web based distance learning, tutorials, lectures and field visits including two 7 day extended tours around Scotland and several weekend trips.
They are assessed on coach, foot and on site and have to write 4 essays plus a longer project and tour notes. If they pass all this, they apply to sit the STGA membership exam which lasts for 4 days and includes a written exam, a project, oral questions on any area of Scotland, oral questions on practical issues and assessment on coach, site and walk. They are assessed in English but have to do the practical sessions in English and in any language they intend to guide in (whether it is their native language or not) They must pass at 70% and they are then awarded the Blue Badge, a joint STGA, University of Edinburgh Certificate and a Certificate in Scottish Studies (which can count for a degree if they want). The level is University 2nd year or Educational Level 4. Most students are graduates and usually over 22 years. We also accredit guides at Level 3 – who are qualified for an island or group of islands within Scotland only – they do a shorter course but the standard expected is the same – just for a smaller geographical area.
Next year we will also accredit Site Guides at Level 2 – people who work on one site i.e. A castle or do a fixed route i.e. An open bus city tour or a fixed walk. We do have unqualified guides however and there are no laws to prevent that but we do have support from the Scottish Executive and the Tourist Board and hope to bring more of them into the fold through the different categories.
Scottish Tourist Guides Association
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The only localities that require licensing in the US are as follows:
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Washington, DC
- New York City, New York
- Savannah, Georgia
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Gettysburg Battlefield, Pennsylvania
- Vicksburg Battlefield, Mississippi
All of these localities are in the eastern part of the US and therefore licensing is not required anywhere west of the Mississippi River.
One of the goals of the National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations–USA is to raise the standards of the guiding profession here in the US. We were established in 1998 in Washington DC.
Please check out our website at: http://www.tourguidesofamerica.com
The Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington, DC
The United States does not have a National Plan for tourism. It is handled by individual states and cities. I live in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. We are one of only a few cities in the United States that does license guides. Our educational requirements are not nearly as strenuous as those in England and Scotland. Basically the city charges for testing and if you pass you are required to pay for a drug test and a background test before your license is issued. The test is 150 fill-in-the-blank questions about the History and Culture of New Orleans and the surrounding area. Most prospective guides do take a course at the local Community College. In additional to lectures, guides take weekend tours and are required to prepare a part of a tour each week for presentation to the class. The system is far from adequate and our local Tour Guide Association is working with the City to hopefully raise the bar to a higher level. The process is slow but we are making some headway.
Tour Guides Association of Greater New Orleans (Louisiana) USA