7 News Belize

Taking Tour Guides Seriously
posted (July 22, 2015)

Very regularly on the news, you see struggling tour guides trying to scrape out a living by hustling tours at the Fort Street Tourism Village. It’s a fierce and highly competitive atmosphere, and they’re dealing with potential customers who’ve been warned on the cruise ships that they should avoid the guides on the streets. All that makes it TOUGH to earn a living, and the red tape of getting a tour operator’s license just adds one more expense to that struggle.

But the BTB has tried to lessen the force of at least that blow by collaborating with 64 tour operators to regularize their temporary licenses. After 2 years of work, and 4 groups of training cohorts, they are being given a full license to conduct tours in Belize City.

We stopped by the certification process of this 64 operators this evening to find out the difference it will make:

Valdermar Andrade - Director, Destination Planning and Cruise, BTB

"This process started 2 years ago in 2013, when we did the first heritage tour training and from there, 67 guides basically were regularized. Where we train people on different aspects of the Belize City itself, information on the general core of Belize City and also some delivery techniques. I have to say I was very impressed with the 4S cohort. I know many of you suffered through the practicals because you were wondering what we were doing to get you to a certain level but that was exactly the point. The point was to get you to a level of delivery of product that we would be proud of and that will support the Belize brand. So today, we are finishing the third cohort for the general principles for professional tour guiding which gives you the fundamentals of tour guiding, delivery techniques and some additional information on Belize City."

John Pollard - Owner, Big John Tours

"Gentlemen, first of all, we have to give thanks and recognition to the Belize tourism board. Especially to the director who had believed in us throughout the entire process. This company Big John Tours have 50 members plus in this company. And two years ago, when this course first got started, I had insist and I was behind BTB for my guys to get regularized. Today, each and every member out there is now regularized and everybody is legal to do what we've been doing in conducting city tours."

Rudy Burgos - Tour Guide Trainer

"Formation is one thing but even better than that is the attitude we have. One of us does wrong it reflects on everyone of us right up to the top level of ministry of tourism. When you all mess up, we all mess up together. If all of we do good, we all do good together. So keep that in mind, it's a heavy responsibility."

Daniel Ortiz

"One major comment of the local tour operators working in the forth street area is always that, unno behave unprofessional, unno behave ghetto. Does it help for that professionalism aspect?"

John Pollard - Owner, Big John Tours

"Yes, this course that we did, it helps a lot. You had to go to school for that 2 weeks period like I said and they had learned about being professional. They had learned about how to approach people, they had learned about the different historical sites in the city and other things.”

These operators participated in two sessions called the Heritage Tour Training and the General Principles of Tour Guiding.

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