Tourist Guides Take Familiarisation Trip to Down and Ards
The Northern Ireland Tourist Guide Association (NITGA) is the association of professional tourist guides in Northern Ireland. During the off-season period, the Association engages in an intense programme of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to ensure that members stay up to date with what is new and current throughout Northern Ireland.
Most of NITGA’s members hold the coveted Blue Badge, awarded on the successful completion of intensive training followed by a series of comprehensive written and practical exams. A small number of our members hold Failte Ireland badges, which necessitate equally intensive training and examinations.
Professional guides are expected to have at their fingertips an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the region’s history, politics, geology, geography, history, heritage arts culture and much more. They must be capable of confidently, eloquently and in an entertaining fashion, guiding visitors around all our tourist attractions and landmarks, from Derry’s walls to Titanic Quarter; from Fermanagh’s Lakes to the Causeway Coast.
Once trained and badged, tourist guides cannot rest on their laurels, they need to stay up to date as Northern Ireland’s tourism industry is developing very fast, with new tourism products emerging all over the region.
On 24 November, the NITGA organised a Familiarisation (FAM) Trip that took its members to a number of different locations around Downpatrick, Crossgar, Newtonards and Dundonald.
One of the highlights included a tour and tasting at the recently established Rademon Estate Distillery, Crossgar. Food and drink is an important part of the tourism offering, so the Rademon visit enabled members to get a deeper insight into the craft drinks sector.
As well as getting to know and understand the various regions better, the Familiarisation Trips allow members to network with local Tourism Development Officers who know about new developments and visitor needs in their area.
In Downpatrick, the Association was hosted by Christine McCormick, the Visitor Services Manager for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. In Newtownards, Judith Hammond, Tourism Development Officer for Ards and North Down Council, hosted NITGA members at the Visitor information Centre for a talk and networking session.
The Northern Ireland Tourist Guide Association will continue to work closely with local Tourism Development Officers across Northern Ireland over coming months, to help establish mutually beneficial working relationships that will assist the tourism services currently being offered and to help prepare for what promises to be a very busy 2018.Back