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President's Letter: Tourist Guide versus Tour Manager

A clarification of terms following the May 2019 Tripartite meeting of the Institute of Tourist Guiding, the British Guild of Tourist Guides and the Association of Professional Tourist Guides.

Also appearing in May 2019 issue of Communiqué for members and students.


Dear Colleague

As we come into the traditional busy season, we would like to remind everyone of the difference between a tour manager and Blue Badge Tourist Guide.

Below is the definition accepted by the European Union. The entire industry helped the European Normalisation Body (CEN) develop a European Norm which was finally approved in 2003 (EN13809- 2003). Tourism representatives from across Europe took part.

Many of us work as both BBTGs and tour managers and we completely understand the difference. It is not in our interest as a profession to have the lines between the two jobs blurred, as you can be a tour manager with next to no training nor any specific qualification.

What might blur these lines is a BBTG wearing their Blue Badge when they are tour managing if they are travelling outside their own area of qualification. e.g. if a London BBTG is wearing their London badge when in fact working as a tour manager around the UK and regional BBTGs wearing their badges when escorting tours in London.

This might seem unimportant, but following complaints made to the Institute about guiding ‘outside area’ we believe that some of the problems arise when BBTGs who work as tour managers are unaware of the significance of wearing their badges in areas for which they are not qualified.

We know that the Blue Badge is a great brand, but it is for Tourist Guides and not tour managers. Thank you for helping to keep this distinction clear.

Tourist Guide

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.

Tour Manager

Person who manages and supervises the itinerary on behalf of the tour operator, ensuring the program is carried out as described in the tour operator’s literature and sold to the traveller/consumer and who gives local practical information.




Marilyn Collis

President, Institute of Tourist Guiding