A new network to support guides operating in the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative (AITC) area is being launched today at Argyll and Bute Museum Heritage Forum ‘Cultural Heritage Counts’ conference in Oban’s Corran Halls.
Supported by AITC, Oban & Lorn Tourism Alliance, Port of Oban and Oban’s Business Improvement District, this new initiative seeks to bring together tour guides from across the area to share best practice and ideas, access training and development opportunities and collaborate to bring new tours and ‘experiences’ to enhance visitors’ enjoyment, interaction and understanding of Argyll and Isles history and heritage.
Last year, in response to demand driven by increasing numbers of cruise ships visiting the west coast, the Port of Oban Cruise Ship Welcome Group was supported by Oban’s Business Improvement District and grant aided by Oban Common Good Fund to commission the Scottish Tour Guides Association (STGA) to provide Yellow Badge training for a cohort of 12 guides. These STGA qualified and licensed guides now provide walking tours of Oban town centre and the Isle of Kerrera.
This year, the walks have been supplemented by a number of additional tours and ‘experiences’ and it has become clear that there is an opportunity to develop and build a network of guides drawn from the full Argyll and Islands area who can work together to keep business local and provide a service for large national and international tour operators.
Rab Black, chair of Port of Oban Cruise Group and himself a tour guide, commented:
“Visitors want a balance between facts and fun. Local guides can add colour and perspective to history and heritage and we find guests are as interested in community and real people as they are in buildings and monuments.
“This new area guides network has the potential to bring together all guides in our area to create a central register of passionate and skilled individuals who love to share their knowledge and expertise, but may not have the business contacts and access to the wider tourism industry operating by themselves.”
Ann Fraser, a freelance walking tour guide who is also employed to guide at Oban Distillery, presented an overview of ‘guiding’ and how it helps make ‘cultural heritage count’. Ann was also trained by STGA and along with her fellow guides from Port of Oban she’s enthusiastic about this fledging new group.
Ann said: “I’d encourage all guides to sign up – many of us work together informally already and help each other out.”
Iain Jurgenson, Chairman of AITC said “AITC are really excited to be supporting this new initiative across Argyll. Utilising funding from HIE we have supported Freelance Development Agents to develop products in response to needs identified locally. The success of this pilot project in Oban will pave the way for a new way of working for tour guides throughout Argyll, raising the profile of our area and the businesses within it.”
Linda Battison AITC Freelance Development Agent who has been working on this project, added: “Argyll & Isles Guides Network will organise a seminar for members early 2020 around the theme of West Coast Waters to highlight and explore the marketing opportunities presented by VisitScotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters."
"We need to build a central register of all guides operating in Argyll & the Isles, and as the network grows, members could benefit from reduced rates for professional indemnity insurance and other third-party discounts"
"There is no joining fee, so please please complete the signup form to register your interest"
For further information please contact:
Linda Battison on 01631 569425 or mobile 07857 429206