ENAT, the European Network for Accessible Tourism and FEG, the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations, have signed a Partnership Agreement, aiming to improve the skills of professional tourist guides, who guide visitors with disabilities.
ENAT and FEG worked closely together as partners over the past three years with a number of European organisations, developing the “T-Guide” project, which is aimed to be continuous professional development for tourist guides across Europe for “Guiding people with intellectual disabilities and/or learning difficulties”. The project was co-financed by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme and completed in the summer of 2015.
Under their new partnership agreement, FEG and ENAT will work closely together on several areas of common interest. Their first initiative will be to establish a supplementary training course for professional qualified tourist guides, focusing on skills and techniques that are needed when guiding people with learning difficulties or intellectual disabilities.
Signing the new agreement at a meeting in Athens, Greece, FEG President Ms. Efi Kalampoukidou stated:
“FEG’s member associations, representing 70,000 qualified tourist guides in Europe, are continually striving to ensure the highest quality of tourist guiding for visitors from all countries and backgrounds. We need to develop Tourism for All in Europe and in our own countries as destinations”.
She went on to say: “In our profession, Continuous Professional Development is a must. We have to adapt to the changing demands of groups or individual visitors, as well as keeping up to date with the latest knowledge and refining our guiding skills. By partnering with ENAT we will be able to deliver a world class life –long training to tourist guides in disability awareness and tourist guiding”.
Welcoming the agreement, Mr. Ivor Ambrose, ENAT’s Managing Director, remarked: “Nowadays, tourists of all ages and abilities are looking for inclusive experiences. Tour groups are often mixed and are very likely to include visitors with various disabilities or access needs and tourist guides must know how to prepare and cope with the different needs they may encounter. We are pleased to support FEG in rolling out training courses that can help tourist guides meet the demands of visitors with disabilities. The qualified tourist guides who have these skills will be an asset to destinations and attractions of a country or city that are looking to offer a better, more inclusive welcome to their guests and this, in turn, will make European tourism more attractive and competitive”.
Working with ENAT, FEG plans to offer the first “T-Guide” training course for its London Blue Badge tourist guides in March 2016, in the Houses of Parliament in London, UK.