What does a tour guide actually do?
The European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) defines “tourist guide” as follows: “A person who guides visitors in the language of their choice and interprets the cultural and natural heritage of an area, which person normally possesses an area-specific qualification usually issued and/or recognised by the appropriate authority.” This means that a tour guide is a person with knowledge of a place and subject, who primarily receives, supervises and accompanies tourists. The tour guide imparts detailed knowledge about geography, history, art history and cultural, scientific, social facts and relationships, either in their own local language or in a foreign language.
Tour guide systems are also used to protect the tour guide’s voice and assist with successful guided tours. Tour guide systems transmit the tour guide’s words through a microphone and headsets to the guests. The tour guide’s voice is protected and all guests hear his words at the same volume and quality. Often, tour guide systems are confused with an audio guide. The latter plays back pre-recorded content without a tour guide actually guiding the guests.
Tour guides in Germany and Europe
In Europe, tour guides are represented by the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (FEG), although tour guide qualifications are specific to each country. In some cases, the qualification is national, while in other cases it is regional. Since 2008, EN15565 has been the European standard for the training and qualification of tourist guides. However, it says nothing about local recognition as a tour guide.
In Germany, the ‘tour guiding’ profession is not regulated by law and is a freelance profession. Training courses are generally provided for tour guides working for tourist offices. However, in many other countries, tour guides may only work following training that leads to a qualification and successfully completed state examinations. In Austria, for instance, tour guides are only permitted to operate after training lasting one and a half years. The examination is sat in the local Chamber of Commerce.
World Tourist Guide Day
In 1987, the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations announces the Tourist Guide Day. Over 50 tourist guide associations join forces to advertise the profession and highlight the difference between them and self-appointed tour guides who guide tourists through towns and cities without relevant knowledge, training or further education.