Northern Ireland Tourist Guide Association

10 Things To Know About NITGA - Northern Ireland Tourist Guide Association

1. What year was the Northern Ireland Tourist Guide Association (NITGA) established, and where is the headquarters?

NITGA was established in 1992, this was the year the first Blue Badge Tourist Guides qualified. NITGA is a Company Limited by Guarantee and is headed by a Chairman and nine officers and board members. NITGA’s address is in the centre of Belfast.

NITGA is a member of, the Tourism Alliance in Northern Ireland, Visit Belfast, The Institute of Tourist Guiding, the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations, and the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations.

A Traditional Irish Music Session in a Northern Irish Pub

2. What is the primary mission/goal of NITGA? Along with outlining the mission/goals, if the association works with other local tourism organizations, be sure to include in response

NITGA is a membership body providing representation for qualified Tourist Guides. It is a not for profit, non-political body representing the needs of professional tourist guides within Northern Ireland. Our main purpose is to promote and market our members, and to ensure that tourist guides are recognised as the key ambassadors of our region. We also provide support and guidance for members when required.

NITGA is committed to continuing professional development (CPD) which ensures our members always provide interesting, informative and enjoyable tours. Our members speak a range of languages and engage in regular professional development to maintain their skills and knowledge base.

3. What is the process to become a qualified tourist guide in Northern Ireland?

NITGA offers three guiding qualifications accredited by ITG (Institute of Tourist Guiding):

  • Blue Badge holders are qualified for all three modes of guiding - guided walks, at sites and on a moving vehicle – for all of Northern Ireland.
  • Green Badge holders are qualified for two modes of guiding - guided walks and at sites in their specified city, town, borough or area of countryside.
  • White Badge holders are qualified for one mode of guiding - either at a specific site eg museum, cathedral, stately home, or a guided walk along one fixed route.
  • All applicants undertake a selection process by completing an application form and undertaking a formal interview. If accepted on the course the length of training depends on the colour of the Badge.
  • For example the Blue Badge training can take between 12-18 months and involves weekly lectures, familiarisation trips, a two day communications seminar, practical training at a church, museum, a walking tour and guiding on a moving vehicle. Candidates also undertake private study. There are eight assessments of equal weighting. Four are written assessments, and four are practical assessments. Successful candidates must pass all eight modules.

4. Is there an official badge that qualified tourist guides in Northern Ireland wear? If yes, describe the badge and include an image

  • The Blue and Green Badges are oval with the Guide’s name is printed on it.
  • The White Badge is rectangular and has the name of the site printed on it.

5. How many qualified tourist guides are members of NITGA and what are their diverse backgrounds? Also how many languages do they guide in, and do they specialise in themed tours?

NITGA has over 100 members and is growing from a range of diverse backgrounds including accountancy, civil servants, coach driver, forestry educationalist, geologists, medics, ornithologists, police officers, post mistress, social worker, taxi driver, teachers and many more! Our members offer tours in over 15 languages and many Guides specialise in themed tours such as Ecclesiastic, Food tours, Gardens, Golf, Game of Thrones film sites, Literature, Music, Ornithology, Pubs, St Patrick, Street Art and Murals, Traditional Irish music, Ulster Scots, Whiskey etc

All of our members bring a wealth of knowledge and skill base to guiding - you can imagine how proud NITGA is of its’ members and the interesting, fascinating and factually accurate narratives they deliver.

International Tourist Guiding Day - 21 February - The Cathedral Quarter of Belfast City

6. What are some of the professional development classes offered to members of NITGA?

NITGA continually strives to improve the standard of our guiding and takes every opportunity to expand members’ knowledge and skills by offering a full and wide ranging programme of continuous professional development (CPD). During the winter months the CPD Committee organises familiarisation (FAM) trips to areas and places of interest, evening lectures alongside monthly ”talk and dine” events with invited speakers, giving guides an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and also meet socially with fellow members. Regular newsletters are distributed to all members regarding up and coming events, and updated information regarding all aspects of life in Northern Ireland.

Members demonstrate their involvement in CPD during the winter months by submitting their details to the NITGA board and if approved, a logo is placed beside their name on the NITGA website.

NITGA Guides enjoying a recent FAM trip to Hillsborough Castle

7. What are some of the top reasons for using a qualified tourist guide in Northern Ireland?

NITGA’s guides are first class ambassadors for Northern Ireland. They are professional, qualified and have public liability insurance. They deliver unbiased information that both informs and entertains visitors with authentic and memorable visitor experiences and do so in over 15 different languages. Guides are trained in the safe management of groups of all sizes.

8. What are some of the popular places to visit in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland is a small and compact country and can be described as a hidden gem. You can drive from city to coast to countryside in a maximum of two hours so getting the full flavour of Northern Ireland in a few days is very achievable. Visit the NITGA website for a sample of tours offered by NITGA guides.

Popular places in Northern Ireland to visit includes:

  • Belfast City – Belfast City Hall, Titanic Belfast, Peace Wall and Murals, St Anne’s Cathedral and the Cathedral Quarter, Crown Liquor Saloon, Parliament Buildings at Stormont Estate.
  • The Walled City of Derry/Londonderry - Walk the ancient City Walls, The Tower Museum and the Bogside Murals.
  • County Londonderry – Downhill Castle, Mussenden Temple and Seamus Heaney Home Place.
  • County Antrim Coast Road (one of the top 5 coastal road trips in the world) - Game of Thrones film sites, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, The Giant’s Causeway (an Unesco World Heritage Site), Old Bushmills Distillery, Dunluce Castle Rathlin Island and The Dark Hedges.
  • County Fermanagh - Lakelands – Island town of Enniskillen - Devenish Island, Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, Belleek pottery, Castle Archdale and Florence Court House.
  • County Tyrone - Sperrin Mountains, Ulster American Folk Park and Hill of the O’Neill Visitor Centre.
  • County Down – Mourne Mountains, Strangford Lough - Mount Stewart House and gardens, St Patrick’s Trail, Castleward and Hillsborough Castle.
  • City of Armagh – St Patrick’s Cathedral, Navan Fort and the Armagh Planetarium.
  • Castle, ancient ruins, beaches, woodlands, forests and gardens.

Surfing on White Rock Beach on the Antrim Coast Road.

Game of Throne Locations throughout all of Northern Ireland

Game of Thrones Tapestry at the Ulster Museum in Belfast

Braavas Canal
Coast of Dorne

9. What are some general tips you would give to potential visitors planning a vacation to Northern Ireland?

  • Don’t buy a guide book, book a guide!
  • Ensure your guide is qualified and has full public liability insurance.
  • Be prepared for four seasons in one day.

10. Where can potential visitors to Northern Ireland find out more information about NITGA and also find a qualified tourist guide?

Information regarding NITGA, how to find a qualified guide, details of language guides and a sample of tours available can be viewed at Enquires can be made via the website and a member of NITGA will contact you.

NITGA members enjoying a recent Fam Trip to Randalstown