Differences between a Professional and an Amateur Guide

Today, 21st February 2020 is the International Tourist Guide Day. This International Day has been celebrated by the Tour(ist) Guides all around the world since 1990, when it was created by the World Federation of Tourist Guides Associations (WFTGA)


Do you think you know everything about the Tourist/Tour Guides? Let's see! I invite you to read this Blog post a bit more. 

What's a Tourist Guide?

According to the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) a Tourist Guide is a « person who guides visitors in the language of their choice and interprets the cultural and natural heritage of an area, which person normally possesses an area-specific qualification usually issued and/or recognized by the appropriate authority ». 


Unfortunately, in the last years, Qualified Guides and visitors we are facing a wave of amateurs who think that being a guide consists in memorizing a Wikipedia page and speaking in front of a group. Or even worse, it would consist in walking people around the city, no matter what you explain to them... These people have no qualification, no official recognition, no experience, no knowledge, and they work illegally.


Who's responsible for that? The governments who are trying to "Uberize" this beautiful profession, and the customers who buy this kind of services. 

What are the risks of following a false Guide?

In most of the European countries guiding is still a regulated profession, as other jobs (lawyer, baker, dentist, architect...). In other countries and cities (as in Amsterdam), regulation is coming to prevent the mass and the bad quality tourism. Examples of ID's and Badges in Europe.


However, the Market's door was opened to amateurs guides who work day after day for Tourist Companies (sometimes announcing fake "Free Tours", but not only), for Travel Agencies (against the law), River/Sea Cruise lines, Segway companies, Cycle-taxis, tuk-tuk, etc. In some cases, they are even exploited by misgiving companies.


Not to be confused with the amateurs doing tours intermittently and asking for nothing in exchange (as teachers, historians, architects, inhabitants with a speciality or a passion...). These people they really want so share good information with you, even if they cannot be designated as guides. 


If you want or going to follow a tour with the first type of amateur I mentioned above, check the risks below:

You will pay for false/invented information

  • Amateurs often have no diploma in any speciality related to our profession (history, history of arts, tourism, languages, archaeology...). Some of them decided to become a guide overnight after reading Wikipedia. In the streets of Strasbourg you can hear some crazy comments from these unethical amateurs as: 
    • All the bishops of France lived in Strasbourg", while Strasbourg wasn't French until the 17th century;
    • "The Strasbourg Cathedral has only 1 tower to point the main entrance out", the historians say that the no-construction of a second tower was due to three possible causes: lack of funding (the most probably one), or the heavy weight of a 2nd tower, or because Gothic was old-fashioned;
    • "The Kougelhopf cake can be made with strawberry or vainilla", Kougelhopf can be only made in two versions, the traditional sweet one (with raisins and almonds) or the salty one (with bacon). 
  • Qualified Guides, we followed a specific training for several years at the university or in a vocational school, and we continue studying after that. We were also trained to speak to the groups, to adapt our speech and to guide people. In addition, we use the local archives, the newspapers and certified-sources of information to prepare our tours

You are not in safety

  • Amateurs are working illegally and sometimes for unethical companies. If you follow their tours, you are on your own in case of accident.
  • Qualified Guides, we must protect our guests and that's why we subscribe professional insurances for it.

Amateurs don't pay tax

  • Amateurs conceive our profession as a (everyday) hobby. They often think they don't have to declare their guiding revenues. If you pay them, you will be contributing to tax evasion. 
  • Qualified Guides, we declare 100% of our earnings, and we pay between 40-50% of them in tax in order to contribute to our society.

You will miss the musts of the cities

  • Amateurs are not allowed to guide in the Monuments or Museums and, depending on the country, not even in the streets (ex.Italy). If they try to do it, your group may be stopped by the Tourist Police or a Security Guard.
  • Qualified Guides can guide everywhere (except in some private foundations) and you won't miss the inside of the main monuments and museums of the city you are visiting. 

To know the advantages of hiring a Qualified Guide, please read the following Blog post. You can also enjoy Quality Walking Tours for less than €10 per person in most of the Tourist Information Centres proposing this services. 


Help us to fight against professional intrusion and tax evasion!

Look for quality and professionalism and you won't be disappointed!