Always though the quiet winter months I have concentrated not only on reviewing my business but also on using my knowledge of Wales and tourism for casting around for consultancy projects. I am also a licensed Federation of European Tourist Guides trainer.
I had already been working on training new tourist guides for North Wales when the pandemic hit and we had been ducking and diving around the access restrictions. Everyone knows a tour guide needs knowledge. This knowledge falls into two categories one is background knowledge - of history, geology, art, architecture which enables painting a verbal picture to put what the visitor is seeing into context of both time and space. This type of teaching was easy to move online though I (and almost everyone else in the country!) had to learn Zoom and Google Meet skills. Not just the technology but adapting to a more lecturing style with less eliciting knowledge through question asking for example.
Another sort of knowledge is of the geography of the sites to be visited from the practical constraints (can you get a coach there, where are the nearest toilets, what are hazards moving a group around? etc.) to the very positioning of the sites for when a client wants to say, visit neolithic sites in an afternoon from Caernarfon - what is feasible. Nothing beats actually visiting places to gain this type of knowledge.
But as well as knowledge the guide needs skills. These range from using your voice so it can be heard, pitching for variety and emotion and clarity - especially essential for non-native language speakers and the hard of hearing to learning to use body language to, say, gently move a group along.
These type of skills are incredibly difficult to teach online. As, of course, are coach microphone techniques - spotting things from the front window and describing where to look for passengers behind with only side views and doing so quickly before they have passed by and feel they've missed something.
We have always had a scarcity of linguists guides in Wales and, as the country was garnering more interest from overseas groups, this fact was hampering growth. A chance conversation from the chair of the Welsh Guides to an Italian guide prompted the idea of training already skilled, practically-experienced qualified Blue Badge Guides and I became Course Manager on this new Endorsement course. 18 participants attended 15 2-hour lectures on Welsh language culture, history, geography etc. all given from the Welsh perspective. They will be sitting an exam in April and handing in two tour planning projects. I have made a lot of new friends and learned about what inbound overseas groups like to see and hear about in Wales.
Amanda Whitehead Official Wales Tourist Guide.