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Show them the world

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With a rise in the number of tourists around the world, the demand for guides is also increasing

“I am David Nadal, your tour director. Buenos dias!” said the nattily-dressed man at the arrival lounge of Madrid, Spain. Anticipating our question, he added, “No relation to the famous Spaniard!” In the two-week-tour that followed, David (pronounced “Daveed”) helped us combat the glitches — sickness, theft, forgetfulness, oversleeping — and made sure we had a great time visiting his country and imbibing its layers of history and culture.

While his skills were sharp and his outlook inborn, he needed training and certification to be hired. David speaks impeccable English, Portuguese, French and a smattering of German and has a degree in Tourism, but “the best training is to run trips.” We were surprised he was a freelancer. In fact, several of the local guides were freelancers too. Cortina, the feisty guide, said, “I work when I choose to. I am doing well.”

Trafalgar, the company David works for, “asks for 5-10 years’ experience doing trips. But, over all, you need to love your job to do it properly.” David has been a TD (Tour Director) since 1999, and being one is “absolutely my choice. I like meeting people from all around the world. I enjoy the freedom I have, compared to spending the whole day in an office. And, of course, travelling is my passion.” Any memorable incident as a TD? “I have so many. But one of the nicest is when a man and a woman met in my trips and a year later got married!”

With India’s tourism industry opening up and tourist destinations getting connected, I wondered if qualified tourist guide jobs were getting a boost too. The first page I googled had headings such as “20 Best tour guide jobs (Hiring Now!)”, “Tour Guide Jobs”, 173 Tour Guide Openings”, “27 Tour Guide jobs in India – LinkedIn. Tour Guide Bhopal, India. Exhibition Tour Guide. Tour Operator (specialised in Pilgrimage Holyland Tour)”, and so on.

The calls were for tour consultants, executives, operation and reservation executives, and guides. Job openings for this field are scattered across the country.

Skills

Each hiring organisation is bound to have its special requirements depending on its client profile. But based on traveller experience and feedback, one can safely assume the following as essentials for this job:

  • Be well-informed about the places — history, current restrictions, rules and regulations.
  • Excellent problem-solving abilities.
  • Good sense of humour and open enthusiasm to sustain the interest of tourists.
  • Communication skills to make sure your instructions are understood.
  • Being flexible, if it fits with the tour. I was helped whenever I opted to visit the museum instead of the shopping plaza.
  • Good organisational skills. Our coach seats were forwarded every morning. We got to sit in different parts of the coach, and made new friends.

Courses

There are at least 22 well-known institutes offering travel/tourism courses. Go through websites such as shiksha.com and thebestschools.org for information on courses, job profiles and qualifications.

  • Madras University offers a three-year diploma in Travel and Tourism. Eligibility for the course is a class XII, preferably with commerce subjects, with a minimum aggregate score of 50%. The course fee is between ₹50,000 to ₹4 lakh.
  • Benaras Hindu University provides a two-year diploma in Tourism Management, and is open to all those who have passed class XII (Intermediate) or equivalent exam. The number of seats available in this course will be 60 (30 for Faculty of Arts and 30 for South Campus Barkachha).

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 10:28:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/show-them-the-world/article30418983.ece

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