As the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA) marks this year’s International Tourist Guide Day, being a professional holiday celebrated every February 21, an expert in international tourism and current Senior Special Assistant to Bayelsa State Governor on Tourism Development, Mr. Tamaramiebi Abiri, has called for a broader environmentally oriented tourist guide training curriculum in training institutions that would include conservation, protection of the environment, support for local cultures, economies and environmental education.
Mr. Abiri, while exchanging views with the chairman of Travel Writers’ Corps of Bayelsa State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Piriye Kiyaramo, in Yenagoa on Sunday, on the essence of the International Tourist Guide Day, noted that the training of eco-tourist guides, with specific reference to the ecotourism potentials in Bayelsa State and by extension, the Niger Delta region, would play a vital role in promoting the rich natural heritage in state.
He maintained that the ecotourism potentials in Bayelsa state, which include the recently approved marine park, being the first of its kind in West Africa, the mangroves, beaches, forest reserves, slave routes, tallest lighthouse in West Africa, wildlife and the history, including the first crude oil discovery in West Africa in the Oloibiri Oil Field in Ogbia local government area, would provide memorable experiences for tourists and the local communities, with well trained ecotour guides engaging the tourists with a view to protecting the natural and cultural environment.
The Senior Special Assistant to the governor said by performing their roles such as interpreting the environment, motivating environmentally responsible behaviour and conservation values in the tourists, as specialist information givers who would always have the first contact with tourists visiting the oil rich region, certified tourist guides would help in promoting the state and the region positively to the world.
He however, lamented that many ecotour guides may not have the required skills, attitudes and knowledge to adequately perform all their roles as a result of existing knowledge gaps between what ecotour guides should do on-the-job and what they actually do.
The governor’s aide who emphasized the urgent need to engage youths in the state as tourist guide professionals to explore the job opportunities and wealth creation avenues suggested the implementation of a number of mechanisms such as codes of ethics, awards for excellence, licensing, training and professional certiﬁcation for tourist guides in the country.
According to the international tourism expert, who also is a member of the International Institute of Tourism Professionals, professional certiﬁcation of tourist guides would serve as an important mechanism for improving and maintaining good tour guide standards and professionalism, with specific focus on the Niger Delta region, in view of the immense role they will play in marketing the state and the Niger Delta region to the rest of the world.
It will be recalled that tour guides are responsible for helping people to visit unfamiliar areas. They usually make special trips with groups of tourists in order to show them important places in host cities through providing directions to visiting tourists. They are tourism professionals that lead their guests through the most interesting parts of their states or region. They entertain visitors to their region as well as help them to interpret the sights that they are visiting.
International Tourist Guide Day is a professional holiday celebrated each year on February 21. This observance was established by the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA) and has been held since 1990.
The federation’s main purpose is to promote, market and ensure that tourist guides are recognised as the ambassadors of a region.
WFTGA encourages and supports the use of only area-specific tourist guides to member regions which keeps the local tourist guides working and ensures that visitors have accurate and professional services from our members’ regions.