23rd November 2012.

Mme Olga Kefalogianni Minister of Tourism Hellenic Republic 12 Amalia Avenue 10557 Athens Greece. Dear Madame Kefalogianni Tourist Guide Law: 4093/2012 Firstly I would like to thank you for agreeing to meet me on Wednesday 7th November in London. It was a great pleasure to meet you and your colleagues and to have the opportunity to discuss the position of tourist guides in Greece. I have now had the opportunity to discuss our meeting with our members, the Panhellenic Federation of Tourist Guides and with the Executive Board of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA). I have also been able to study an English translation of the Tourist Guide Law, which I am attaching to this letter. WFTGA currently has members in 79 countries around the world and we are Affiliate Members of UNWTO and in Official Relations with UNESCO. We are a not-for-profit, non-political NGO and we strongly support high standards for the tourist guide profession. In particular we support EN15565 2008: Training and Qualification of Tourist Guides in Europe, which we use as a bench mark for tourist guide training worldwide. Our profession also accepts the following definition: EN/ISO 13809 2003: 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 recognised by the appropriate authority. We are aware that Tourist Guide Training in Greece is currently of a high standard and we understand that the Tourist Guide Schools in Greece are almost at the point of meeting the requirements of EN15565. We understand that the Panhellenic Tourist Guide Federation has been working with the training committee of OTEK to update the study programme to meet the standard. When they do achieve this they will join other European countries including Austria, Cyprus and the United Kingdom. WFTGA understands the economic imperatives that prevail worldwide and also the need to service the growing numbers of new travellers particularly from the BRICS countries. This need has been addressed in several countries by training guides who speak the languages required without reducing the quality of the service they provide. We also understand the desire of people to work across national boundaries but as the definition states, “ tourist guides possess an area specific qualification“ – this means 1
info@wftga.org www.wftga.org 15th WFTGA Convention Macau China January 2013 Follow Us and Discover Our Special Heritage We stand for standards and quality in tourist guides We are the professionals! We promote training and qualifications for tourist guides We are the professionals! We support codes of practice and quality charters for tourist guides We are the professionals! WFTGA Sponsored and Supported by The Cyprus Tourist Guides Association: The Cyprus Tourism Organisation The University of Cyprus; Androus Foundation; Scottish Tourist Guides Association University of Edinburgh, Vienna Chamber of Commerce Registered Office: Vienna Austria www.wftga.org WFTGA is an NGO in Official Relations with UNESCO WFTGA is an Affiliate Member of UNWTO

World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations 1985-2011 : 26 Years Guiding World Heritage & Culture

that they must have excellent area specific knowledge as well as practical training. It does not prevent non-nationals from guiding in a “new“ country. Bearing all this in mind I would be grateful if you would seriously consider the following points as a follow up to our discussion in London: Tourist Guiding is Area Specific and requires in-depth knowledge of the country in which tourist guides practice. EN15565 requires Area Specific Training in addition to Common Subjects. EN15565 demands a minimum number of hours of training for tourist guides, of which 40% must be practical training – on site, in the country concerned, with latest state of the art updates. There will always be recognition of academic qualifications and accredited prior learning, but the candidate must demonstrate that their prior knowledge can be applied to the area in which they intend to guide. Archaeologists and Historians are usually experts in a specific area or period. Accredited prior learning must therefore be supplemented by further training and examination. EN15565 and WFTGA require examination of all potential tourist guides – practical as well as written examinations which are conducted on sites (e.g. archaeological sites), on walks (e.g. in cities or countryside) and on a moving vehicle – this must take place in the area in which they are guiding Some countries, e.g UK, have conducted special courses for people who speak languages that are not otherwise available. They are required to speak fluently the language of the country in which they are guiding as well as their own language. They are trained to the same academic and practical standards and they have to pass written and practical examinations which test their ability to guide in their own language in the host country, to speak the language of the host country and to demonstrate their knowledge of the host country. Visitors are more and more demanding and it is essential for the reputation of any country that interpretation of its culture is conducted by people who really know what they are talking about and have the required skills. I was very pleased to hear from you and others at the meeting in London that those who complete the fast track seminars, mentioned in Article 14 of the Law and those who have “specific languages“, mentioned in Article 11, would still be examined. However, there does not seem to be any provision for that in the text at the moment. In fact it states that they would “automatically be able to access the profession of tourist guides on an equal footing with graduates of other schools of tourist guides“. I presume and hope that this will be addressed in the decrees that implement the law as I am sure you will agree that there should never be automatic qualification for anyone after completing a professional course. WFTGA believes that the reputation of Greece as a cultural tourist destination requires that you seriously consider the above points in implementing the new law. We would expect that you will consult the profession in this matter and in particular the Panhellenic Federation of Tourist Guides. 2

As I am sure you are aware, tourist guides are the real ambassadors of any country. International research shows that they are the people that visitors talk to and the impression tourist guides give and the interpretation that they provide strongly influences visitor opinion and behaviour – especially in matters of cultural identity and conservation. It is therefore imperative that those who practice the profession of tourist guide are trained and qualified to the highest standards. WFTGA is willing to assist in any way that we can to help you to ensure that the quality of tourist guiding in Greece in not threatened so that you can continue to meet and exceed visitor expectations, while still meeting the legitimate desire of people to train as tourist guides. I look forward to receiving your comments. Yours sincerely

Rosalind Newlands OBE BSc WFTGA President Cc Mr Nichola Karahalios: Secretary General Ministry of Tourism Mr Konstantinos Bikas: Ambassador of Greece: UK Professor Harry Coccossis Ms Efi Kalamboukidou Panhellenic Tourist Guides Federation WFTGA Executive Board.

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