BTB’s New Tour Guide Training Techniques presented to SP Tour Guide Association

Friday, November 15th, 2019

The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) joined the San Pedro’s Tour Guide Association at an informative meeting held at the San Pedro Lions Den on Wednesday, November 13th. The main topic of the evening was a professional tour guide training program facilitated by BTB, which will be a mandatory requirement for every tour guide. The meeting also saw a new set of tour guide graduates receiving their certificates of completion.
BTB’s Director for Quality Assurance and Industry Standard Herbert Haylock addressed a packed Lions Den discussing the new components of the training program. “We bring the communication component which deals with the tour briefing and debriefing, and the tour methodology which looks at the organization and entertainment value of the information,” said Haylock. Such new components will be part of future training, playing an integral part in a tour guide’s profile. All tour guides are now required to take this course when they apply for a new license or renewing. Haylock told the gathering that this is another opportunity being offered to gain additional capacities and skills while enhancing their ability to be able to deliver their services.
Many tour guides objected to this mandatory requirement, as the training costs around $500 per person. Some argued that there should be some subsidy from the BTB in terms of the cost, while others demanded the training to be free of cost. Others suggested that before from tour guides to take the training with the new regulations, a consultation should have taken place first. Senior tour guides acknowledged the approach from BTB, but stated that they have nothing new to learn as they have been in the tourism industry for decades. Another suggestion was that the training should only apply to younger or first-time tour guides.
Haylock listened to the suggestions and arguments, stating that he has been around the country holding similar discussions with other tour guide associations. He explained that it is for the betterment of the tourism product and that taking the training should be considered an investment. “I know many have been doing tour guiding for many years, but again it is an opportunity for them to learn something new and help them continue doing what they do even better,” said Haylock. According to him, the training cannot be free of cost as it does come with certain expenses, like the renting of venues for the classes and getting instructors, among others.
President of the island’s tour guide association, Philip ‘Billy’ Leslie, closed the meeting by thanking everyone for their attendance. He announced that through the association, they would be looking at ways to help those that may have difficulties in financing their tour guide training. Leslie then congratulated the 38 new tour guides who were present at the meeting with their certificates, a proof of their achievement. This time, more females joined the program in comparison to other years. They shared that it is a good opportunity for current and even veteran tour guides as there is always something new to learn to better cater to the tourists who support the country’s tourism industry.
As of next year, the new tour guide training is expected to take place at least three times throughout the year. The course usually lasts for three months, but depending on the individual’s availability, it can be done in as little as two weeks via all-day classes. The improved tour guide program is expected to further equip the tour guide with additional techniques and ideas that will create an unforgettable vacation experience for the visitor.
The next round of training will take place in 2020 at a date later to be announced. For more information, visit the San Pedro Tour Guide Association on the island on Barrier Reef Drive across from San Pedrano’s Store.

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