Scheme aims to raise standards and upgrade skills of tour guides
In an effort to improve the service standards of tour guides in Hong Kong, the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC) earlier this year introduced the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Scheme for tour guides who want to continue in the profession.
The aim is to ensure that existing outbound tour escorts and inbound tour guides in Hong Kong continually upgrade their knowledge, skills and professional ethics.
Tour guides must spend at least 12 hours on the course.
The TIC, which regulates inbound and outbound travel agents under the Travel Agents (Amendment) Ordinance, offers a series of courses under the CPD scheme, including modules such as nature appreciation, cultural tourism, outbound travel, customer service, tour safety, communication skills, practical Putonghua, practical English and ticketing.
'We try to make sure that all frontline staff have a certain level of service and upgrade their skills,' said Joseph Tung, executive director of the TIC.
'Frontline staff are important to the industry as a whole. They come face to face with clients every day and their service means a lot to the whole travel industry in Hong Kong. If they provide good service, it will help to boost the image of Hong Kong.'
There are certain important course areas that tour guides must focus on and these are: they need to have a good working knowledge of Hong Kong and they also need to have a good knowledge of tour guide service.
The CPD is an extension from the tour guide certification system that the TIC introduced in 2004.
According to Mr Tung, new tour guide applicants are required to attend a full course and pass an exam before they can apply for a tour guide pass.
More than 7,000 tour guides hold these passes.
The requirement for fluency in languages other than English and Chinese is also gaining importance within the travel trade in Hong Kong.