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Walled City Cultural Trail, Londonderry~Derry

How to Book a Tour Guide

Blue Badge Guides

Today the Blue Badge is recognised as the symbol of excellence within the tourism
industry. We at Northern Ireland Tour Guide Association (NITGA), believe that a Blue Badge Guide is the third key element in making a great day out (the other two being a comfortable coach and good food).

Our association has grown since the first Blue Badge guides qualified in 1992 to a body of over 60 independent guides today. Each of our guides is unique in their own right. They come from a variety of backgrounds and bring a wealth of knowledge and skills with them.

For a full list of specialities and geographical areas covered, refer to our website at www.bluebadgeireland.com, which also contains information about driver guides, language guides and current rates.

Where do I start?

Having been involved in group travel for some 30 years, and guiding for the past four years, I believe I am in the unique position of being able to address the subject from both a consumer and service provider perspective.

The good news is that the task of planning a great day out has just become a whole lot easier thanks to this publication, which is a one-stop shop for all the necessary ingredients. Gone are the days when your day out was planned around the
experiences of a neighbouring group or on a friend’s recommendation. However, like all successful events it’s all about planning and preparation.

Hopefully, the next few paragraphs will assist in making your day out a great one!

What you need to consider?

When do you want to go?

There has been a significant change over the past two years. Events, once crammed into June and July, now take place throughout the year. That’s due to a number of reasons, including the greater availability of venues, such as museums, more eating establishments and better opening hours.

How far should you go?

Know your limitations and set reasonable and achievable targets based on the abilities and interests of your group. There’s no point in planning a day trip from Tyrone to Belfast, including a trip to the Glens of Antrim and afternoon tea in Coleraine.

Take my word, it can’t be done. In situations like this why not include an overnight stop; itineraries can be tailored to meet your needs.

What does the group want?

Get this right and you will become an overnight celebrity. Well, perhaps not, but you will get the job again next year. Canvas the group; do they want some sightseeing, a visit to a historical building or a guided walking tour? Don’t forget free time for shopping!

What are the benefits of having a Blue Badge Guide?

  • They assist in the planning process,
    making recommendations regarding
    routes, timings and itineraries.
  • Provide an interesting and
    entertaining commentary.
  • Use their knowledge and skills
    throughout the day for the benefit
    of the driver and group, thus ensuring
    that your day out is ‘a great day out’.

What will it cost?

In today’s financial climate you may well ask this question, why book a guide and incur that additional expense? Today’s luxury coaches carry up to 50 plus passengers. At current guiding rates the cost to each passenger could be as little as £1.50 per half day or just under £3 per person for a full day. We are here to assist regarding itineraries, lunch venues and site visits and work closely with the local Tourist Information Centres and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

To learn more visit: www.bluebadgeireland.com

David McAnirn.
Chairperson, Northern Ireland
Tour Guide Association (NITGA)

What others say

“I have been employed in the travel industry for the past 40 years and have been coming to Ireland for the last 20 years as it always has been a popular destination
with our clients. My first experience of working with a Blue Badge Guide was in London in 1989. Since then it has been our company policy to always employ the services of a Blue Badge Guide.

Why? Well, there are several good reasons. They know the best touring locations, best eating establishments, where to park our coaches whilst on tour, route planning and timings, but top of the list is the superb commentaries, supplemented with the usual craic. The presence of a guide is now something that our clients have come to expect, and has become an integral part of our group holidays.”

Richard Green.
Director, North Dorset Travel of Bournemouth.

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