Greek tour guides are up in arms over an upcoming decision by the tourism ministry to change the examination procedure for new guides with regards to foreign language certification.
The Crete & Thira Professional Tourist Guides Association and the Association of Qualified Tourist Guides of the Dodecanese have sent Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura letters demanding that the European standard – EN 15565 – for tour guide training and certification be implemented.
Professionals are warning that they will stage a sit-in at the tourism ministry if it proceeds with the decision.
Referring to the ministry’s plans to re-open Greece’s tour guide studies program without language courses as of September, Crete & Thira Professional Tourist Guides Association President Evangelos Alefantinos explains that failure to hold oral language examinations will create poorly qualified guides.
“Language usage is completely different for the guide than what is taught at foreign language institutes, while other foreign languages, such as Russian, will be excluded,” Alefantinos said, pointing to the example of other countries where oral examinations in foreign language proficiency are a requirement.
The Crete & Thira Professional Tourist Guides Association notes in their letter that during Kountoura’s recent visit to Heraklion, Crete, she had agreed to the issue of foreign language testing.
In their letter, the Association of Qualified Tourist Guides of the Dodecanese is calling on the minister to work with foreign embassies towards the organization of relevant language examinations.