Tour guiding – the new experience

Questions and answers from our eighth webinar, Tour guiding – the new experience, recorded 21 October.

Please note information provided in these responses was correct at the time of recording.

It’s best to go to the Government website as the rulings are changing so frequently. You can find the guidance at:

The course which should have started in September 2021 is hoping to run in 2022.  Please check on the website for updates at

There are courses for the Cities [Green Badge] and Sites [White Badge] which are less expensive and take less time to complete.  Please check the website for more details at

There is possibly an argument to say that a guided tour of an indoor attraction could be more safe that allowing free flow.  A guided tour could help manage distancing, bubbles and visitor throughout, if carefully designed groups could move around the displays following different routes to maintain distance. Research possible routes with careful attention to past observations about visitor habits, try and find a range of routes that can be run concurrently, find some hidden treasures or add exhibits to create new finds in distant corners of your exhibitions.  Timetable and plan and risk assessment in detail to ensure tours work.

With the closure of so many TICs, attractive maps and guide books may be of interest. 

Virtual tours may be the way forward. Also there must be many people living in this country who are not native and might welcome tours in their own languages.  It is also worth checking with language schools, colleges and universities.

Tours for local students and universities/colleges may be possible, or even educational tours for schools if you're good with kids. Use social media and get involved in VisitEngland initiatives.

As Sophie suggested, try them out on your friends first and ask them to spread the word.  Be bold and write to local papers to write and an article on you, put up ads in supermarkets, neighbourhood Facebook sites, etc.

From my observations, visors are much easier to guide in effectively than masks.  Many people lip read so much better.  They must be worn properly: we do see them worn with the visor too high and pointing at an angle: probably worse than self-defeating.


Remember that in hospitality settings it is mandatory to wear a face covering (a plastic visor does not count as a face covering). 

From my experience, in broad brush terms you need to be incredibly sensitive to members of the public. And be clear on the rules - difficult though that can be.

You need to be Institute qualified to join the Institute of Tourist Guiding.

White badge courses are usually asked for by the attraction and the Institute accredits them.  Maybe if you work or volunteer at an attraction they would consider running a course. If so I would suggest contacting the Institute. If you don’t then the most accessible courses for individuals are the green badge courses.

Courses have been run on a Continuing Professional Development basis for our already-qualified guides. I'm uncertain as to whether or not there are others out there, I’m afraid.

Lay down the way you need the group to work from the start and give gentle reminders at stops.  The most difficult times are between stops when pavements are narrow and it is impossible to legislate for others moving to and fro.  Ask guests to have their masks ready to wear between stops.

Radio receiver systems and Vox connect (phone based) could be very useful in the future.

Skills-based training that has been developed over decades for guiding in any circumstance complemented by in-depth knowledge training for core and regional guiding. Rigorous examinations to ensure high standards. Presentation skills and tour planning are also part of the training. The support of a great number of individual expert guides and the guiding associations. Opportunities to work together, exchange work and learn together through your guiding career - a great community.  Internationally recognised standards.

Ideally don't be in a crowded area in the first place! If you have flexibility, see if it's possible to do the tour at an alternative time, or with an alternative route. Think potential pinch points - narrow alleys, crowded squares. You can use the technique of guiding ahead - describing what will be going past - so don't stop and congregate in the crowded spot. You might also want to consider using a wireless remote audio system such as Vox. It means your group doesn't have to stick together so much, but it doesn't get round introducing large numbers to the crowded area.

You may need to check with a tour operator but certainly comfort, safety and compliance to all Government guidelines will probably assist.

Coach companies will create their own rulings and guides will need to adhere to these.  I would expect them to be more rigid than public transport as people will be travelling for longer periods.

Local residents are potential tourists who happen to be at home!  We are all keen to keep some ‘normality’ in our lives and to offer something to local people which could be deemed a new and different experience is likely to be enticement enough!  Good luck!


Get locals off the beaten track. Promote tours by saying they will include hidden corners; devise walks of local neighbourhoods, and come up with themes that may appeal to locals. Offer to take dogs on walks too!