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Press Release: Guides Change the Guard 12/11/2020

Guides Change the Guard

Guides Change the Guard – new Joint Presidents announced at the Institute of Tourist Guiding’s AGM

12th November, 2020

“The immediate future of professional guiding during the current Covid epidemic will involve staycations and virtual tours”, said the incoming Joint Presidents of the professional tourist guides’ association, the Institute of Tourist Guiding (www.instituteoftouristguiding.com), in a joint statement at its AGM on 12th November.

The new Joint Presidents, Carole Hiley and Craig Gershater, continued: “It’s been an awful year for tourist guides, but we’ll be back stronger than ever as the acknowledged world’s best tourist guides, playing our key role in the UK’s £127 billion tourism industry as soon as it’s back on its feet.

“We would like to pay tribute to the huge contribution that the outgoing President, Marilyn Collis, has achieved in her three years as President - particularly her recent work helping professional guides to speak with one voice to the rest of the UK’s tourism community.”

New Joint President Carole Hiley’s roots in tourism go back to 1978, working in Europe and the former Soviet Union, with a long stint as a ski guide, before qualifying as a prestigious Blue Badge Tourist Guide for the London region in 1988. She also holds a Green Badge qualification for The City of London.

Her colleague and fellow new Joint President, Chichester-based Craig Gershater, who holds joint British and American nationality, qualified as a South East England Blue Badge Tourist Guide later in his career.  Initially he worked both as an industrial and an academic microbiologist, lecturing at Cambridge and London universities, and also ran a successful science-based trans-national consultancy business. He is a local city councillor, previously Chair of Visit Chichester, and holds a Green Badge guiding qualification for Cambridge and Chichester.  He is also a qualified guide for Portsmouth.

“I’m very proud of the work that Carole and Craig have done for the guiding community,” said Marilyn Collis, outgoing President of the Institute of Tourist Guiding.  “We pride ourselves on being the best tourist guides in the world. People need reassurance in these worrying times. Going on a tour - indeed, even on a simple day out - with a ‘badged’ guide, you’ll be looked after with professionalism, care and sensitivity, and we guarantee that you will gain considerably more - in terms of both knowledge and enjoyment - from your visit than you would from going it alone with a guide book in your hand."

The Institute of Tourist Guiding represents nearly 2,000 qualified guides across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with many of them qualified to guide in a language other than English (some 42 languages in total are spoken fluently, including sign language).

Blue Badge Tourist Guides have all undergone lengthy training courses, and are required to pass demanding exams, to achieve the much-acclaimed Blue Badge before being able to guide the general public.

The iconic Blue Badge tourist guides have unique professional guiding rights to sites such as Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London.  Those who they guide do not have to join the usual queue for entry – a Blue Badge guide and his or her clients can simply walk past the crowds, directly to the key sights of interest. 

Says Marilyn Collis: “This is just one of the many perks of booking a qualified Blue Badge guide, which many simply don’t realise.  No matter whereabouts you have set your heart on visiting, a Blue Badge guide will add immeasurably to your overall experience.  It’s the perfect Christmas or birthday gift, too – one that will be remembered with pleasure for many years to come.” 


Notes to Editors

The Institute of Tourist Guiding (ITG, www.itg.org) is a professional membership organisation which is committed to developing, maintaining and promoting professional standards in tourist guiding. Blue Badge Tourist Guides specialise in regions, Green Badge Tourist Guides work in towns and cities and White Badge Tourist Guides work at heritage sites.

Interested in sampling what a Blue Badge-guided visit is like, and have (or can obtain) a commission for a piece on the experience?  Please contact Sue Ockwell or Karen Carpenter (details below) to discuss.


For further information about Tourist Guides, please contact the new Joint Presidents, Carole Hiley (07754 179 789) or Craig Gershater (07802 461 849) via president@itg.org.uk, or the immediate past President, Marilyn Collis (marilyn@collismanagement.co.uk).

Alternatively, please email office@itg.org.uk.

For other queries, please contact Sue Ockwell or Karen Carpenter at Travel PR, 020 8891 4440 (s.ockwell@travelpr.co.uk, 07831 126356, or k.carpenter@travelpr.co.uk, 07879 458 482).