Our Members are the professional, qualified tourist guides in Europe. They are committed to quality and standards and add value to the visitor experience. Using key techniques that combine knowledge and practical skills they help bring alive each locatiosln and are often described as 'ambassadors' for their country. A Code of Conduct and a Quality Charter reinforces their professional approach. If you'd like to find one of our Members click on the . If you'd like to read more about FEG and its work for Tourist Guides click on 'read more'.
FEG was founded in 1986 in Paris to represent the profession at European level, to publicise and improve the quality of service offered to all visitors to Europe and to bring together and strengthen professional tourist guiding links across Europe.
Twenty seven years later in 2013 FEG is the voice of professional tourist guides in the Europe and is recognised as an advocate of high standards and quality in tourism. It is an active member of the European Tourism Action Group (ETAG) and a participant or observer in key European forums.
The current full members are:
Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The associate members are: Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Luxemburg.
FEG’S WORK FOR PROFESSIONAL TOURIST GUIDES IN EUROPE
1. FEG is the Professional Tourist Guides’ voice in Europe (and especially the EU). It is respected and it is consulted.
2. FEG provides expertise where needed to ensure that the Tourist Guide’s role is understood and promoted.
3. FEG knows where to go and whom to speak to about Tourist Guiding issues.
4. FEG is best placed to speak for Tourist Guides on issues such as equivalence of professional qualifications, standards in tourist guiding and tourist guide training. It is well placed to establish common criteria in all areas of tourist guiding.
5. FEG can achieve a common approach on professional issues. It is able help the industry and consumers greater understand what they can expect of a professional tourist guide in Europe.
6. FEG brings together the Tourist Guide national associations for mutual benefit.
7. FEG provides an opportunity for association and individual networking through its meetings, seminars and website.
1. FEG as a voice for tourist guides in Europe
In particular FEG is a Member of ETAG (European Tourism Action Group) which is also a member of WTO (World Tourism Organisation). FEG attends and has contributed to the Tourism Forums sponsored by the EU Presidency and responds to appropriate tourism consultations (for instance on Sustainability in March 2007). FEG became a member of CEPLIS (European Council of the Liberal Professions) and a member of Europa Nostra in 2012. FEG has increased its presence in Brussels through developing contacts within the European Commission Directorates and The European Parliament (see 3 below).
2. Tourist guiding as a unique and distinct profession
Historically Tourist Guiding has developed for decades as a distinct profession within the tourism industry alongside other complimentary professions that also contribute to the visitors’ overall experience. Professional qualifications for tourist guides in European Countries have helped raise quality and standards and in a number they are needed to practice the profession.
Over the years there have been various attempts to define services in tourism. The entire industry helped the European Normalisation Body (CEN) develop a European Norm which was finally approved in 2003 (EN13809- 2003). Representatives from across tourism and across Europe took part.
FEG was an official observer and a number of Tourist Guide experts, whom FEG had identified, played an important role in deliberations about many of the final definitions. The result of this work has been widely reported. The definitions add greater clarity and transparency to a vast range of services provided – including definitions of such things as, to see’ ,’ a visit’,’ a cruise’,’ a guided tour’ etc. There are separate definitions for Tourist Guide and Tour Manager that help to clarify the differences between these two professions. It benefits the consumer – and authorities - to know how each service in the industry fits together and to understand that the services and professions are not the same as each other. The established distinction between the two professions of Tourist Guiding and Tour Managing has been a notable historical achievement. This is the more important in instances where this distinction is misunderstood or blurred.
3. Tourist Guide Training and Qualification – key to high standards and quality service provision
FEG, at its meeting in Prague in February 2006, finalised its own document, ‘Tourist Guide Training – The Way Forward’. As a consensus of views of its Members the Document establishes common criteria for tourist guide training and identifies common subjects for modules. It additionally emphasises the importance of language skills and compliments FEG’s documents on language testing. Crucially it recognises that the vocation of tourist guiding comprises the interaction of knowledge and practical skills and sets out how this can delivered in training. FEG’s wealth of experience, its involvement in so many countries and its members’ unique position in so often being the link between destinations and the visitor makes this a ’best practice’ document of help to training providers across Europe.
‘Tourist Guide Training – The Way Forward’ is available for purchase - contact the Secretariat for information.‘
At the same time FEG was formulating the Way Forward policy document CEN embarked upon the development of a European Standard on Tourist Guide Training and Qualification. This new project, instigated by Austria, has now for the first time resulted in a European Standard that sets out the minimum standard for training leading to qualification. EN15565 was approved in January 2008 and adopted by CEN signatory countries by September 2008. Never before has there been a pan-European consensus on the minimum hours needed for training, the subjects and competencies to be covered, the relation between knowledge and practical skills and the level of language required.
EN15565:2008 involved FEG and its Members, together with experts with relevant experience. The standard can, of course, be applied across Europe and is already being heralded as a major pan-European achievement. This will help in establishing the equivalence of qualifications from one state to another whilst again increase consumer awareness of the type and level of service for which they are paying.
Copies of EN15565 can be purchased direct from CEN. The equivalent National standard can be obtained from each member country’s normalisation body. In 2009 FEG published a guide of the Standard.
4. FEG’s role in training provision and policy
FEG is well aware of the importance of equivalence of professional qualifications from one country to another. A vital part ofFEG’s work is to consider this issue in relation to tourist guiding. Whether tourist guiding in a certain area or country is regulated or not, it will become increasingly important to establish how one country's training and qualification relates to that of other countries.
Following FEG's AGM in Istanbul in 2006 a Training Committee was established. Its Mission Statement is as follows:
Since 2006 the Committee has identified training programmes that can be delivered in accordance with the terms of reference.
In 2012 a FEG Training Consultative Group consisting of experienced FEG accredited trainers and chaired by FEG Ex-President, Tom Hooper, was established.
A larger number of seminars and a two day course are now offered by FEG's accredited trainers, who deliver training in English, German, Greek, Italian and Spanish.
6. Problem solving for Tourist Guides
8. Best practice for guiding on a coach or other moving vehicle
9. Best practice for guiding walking tours
11. Dark tourism
12. Cultural awareness for Tourist Guides
13. Sustainable tourism and Tourist Guides
14. Customer service skills for Tourist Guides
16. Active Listening
For a description of the seminars offered, please click on each one of the titles.
Wherever and whenever funding is available, FEG will support appropriate projects.
5. FEG’s Quality Charter and a Code of Conduct
A further way in which FEG and its Members have helped to promote an understanding of what professional tourist guides do has been the development of a Quality Charter. By pooling resources, a FEG Quality Charter was approved by all its Members. It will help clients understand exactly what they should expect of tourist guides all over Europe. The Quality Charter has been adopted by the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA).
In spring 2008 WFTGA's Code of Conduct was considered and adopted by FEG. This step means that both the Quality Charter and the Code of Conduct apply to more than 60.000 qualified tourist guides in Europe and to further tens of thousands across the world.
6. FEG working to bring together members for mutual benefit.
There is yet another side to FEG, outside the EU work and representing Tourist Guides in Europe. It is the role FEG can play in bringing the various and often disparate tourist guide associations together for mutual benefit. Often this might be to share common challenges or to share information – issues such as site liaison, new European legislation and regulations (e.g. in relation to coaches , requests to know the services provided by colleagues across Europe, which markets are growing or shrinking etc.) This is important. By knowing that there are common issues and by exchanging information both FEG and the national associations are better equipped and can grow – including with non-member associations. In 2007 FEG engaged its first lawyer with European expertise, developed a link with Visit Europe, is seeking sponsorship and is working on a joint campaign to promote quality and standards with the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA). All key documents can be found on www.feg-touristguides.org
Finally there is the opportunity to network. This has been found to be extremely useful for members - whether it's the contacts made at FEG meetings, seminars and conventions or through the use of the various national directories and web site information. FEG's website links directly to those of Member Associations and to a whole host of other resources for tourist guide and visitor alike.
In 2004 FEG's Convention was held in Sicily. In the same year FEG's Members met in Riga to commemorate the expansion of the EU. In 2005 FEG's Members met in Paris and Malta.
The next FEG AGM and 18th European Tourist Guide Meeting will be held in Brno, Czech Republic!
Don't miss it!