“Tourist guides help to discover, identify, promote and strengthen a region’s endogenous potential.”
(Dr v. Kieseritzky, former BVGD Vice President + Head of Commission for Professional Training (KBB))
Tourism policy is not an issue just for a specific department or a single political level. Rather, it is a cross-cutting concern that requires cooperation in many different areas. Political institutions and (some of) the players in the tourism sector often fail to meet the needs of our profession. Even if they are concerned with the condition of the tourism industry or promote specific measures, e.g. rural development or accessible travel, they largely ignore the need for quality in the field of professional tourist guiding.
This is particularly unsatisfactory because professional tourist guides make an outstanding contribution to the ongoing development and positive perception of tourism – provided federal and regional institutions support them. Tourist guides fulfil a multi-pronged task for the regional economy and culture: interacting directly with visitors, guides present a profile of urban or rural areas, bring the different economic, cultural and environmental needs of their region together, and contribute to strengthening its endogenous potential.
Guides develop a region’s qualities, and not only for visitors (“tourists”), who after a wonderful tour may want to return to the region at some point in the future. They also provide a service for local residents (both locals and migrants). They kindle emotions, they provide information about and clarify a whole range of issues. In short, they strengthen the bond between the people who live in their region and help them to find their identity. In times of demographic change, the consequences of which – especially for rural and small towns – are well known, this makes a major contribution to social stability.
These objectives must not be hampered by wrong policy frameworks at the federal and European level. And they can be made easier to achieve by strong cooperation between all stakeholders at the regional and local levels (politics, tourism institutions, agencies etc.).
The German National Tourist Guide Association thus calls for:
1. The creation of a single European market in the tourist guide business
2. Fair competition and fair working conditions
3. Consumer protection
4. A sustainable tourism industry
5. Adequate infrastructure and a welcoming culture
As a first step, to achieve these goals, we require:
– A study on the position and benefits (socially, economically and culturally) of the tourist service providers in the region
– A campaign for “quality-oriented trips”: transparency regarding quality criteria, sustainable services, and the sustainable management of social and natural resources