Tourism was touted to become the world’s biggest industry until the “Great recession” in many industrialized countries put an end to that conjecture in 2008.
Still, millions travel, but most really fail to take advantage of the opportunity to truly experience their destination’s culture, sights, infrastructure, and people.
First, I should mention that a lot of tourism statistics are inaccurate. Businessmen travelling to another country declare that they are visiting, then there is VFF (visiting family and friends) category, and finally immigrants to western countries, once financially successful, visit their home countries to see how the changes that have taken place and how distant relatives live.
The term guide has many meanings – it can be a book written about a city or country, then there are human guides who are in charge of “guiding” a group of people according to an itinerary, (these days they are given the lofty title of tour director), local city guides lead tourists to sights, and provide information regarding history, technical data, the purpose of the sight, when it was created.
In some countries local guides must be certified to ensure that they possess sufficient knowledge to provide correct, clear and concise information. Of course official agencies can manipulate the information provided to trainees, as is the case in some Middle Eastern countries. Authorities lie by withholding correct information about sights such as the architect of mosque, or ruined churches by zealous mobs, or in some cases churches turned to horse stalls by conquering armies.
If you listen to a local Palestinian guide in Bethlehem, you are likely to hear the Palestinian version of history, whereas the Israeli local guide will tell you a completely different version reflecting government’s objectives. This situation is also true in Turkey and most formerly and presently “communist” countries. Old habits die hard, and sometimes never do.
There are specific site guides i.e museums, mausoleums, monasteries, and cathedrals. They may or may not be fully qualified, but they can highlight the most important artefacts and explain how and why they were created.
These days, in some museums, you can rent portable audio guides. The sequence of the programme will guide you though the establishment. The advantage of such guides is that you can pace your visit as you wish, and the other is the choice of language.
In some countries anyone can be a local tourist guide and tourists must make decisions based on a short interview, which may be inadequate to make a fruitful decision.
In China a group has several guides, starting with the tour director, then a Chinese country guide who travels everywhere within the country, and in every city or destination the services of a local guide must be sought. You can imagine the cost involved, and why the government legislates such laws.
It is always a good idea to hire a certified site guide who can provide in-depth information ad highlight the most important artefacts. In many museums you can see thousands of tourists gawking paintings, or obelisks, or carvings, clueless about their history, creator or other pertinent facts.
Good guides save time, help you understand the culture, can help you in exchanging funds, direct you to fine restaurants that are less expensive and equally as good, if not better, than those that advertise. In some cases they can even haggle in the local language on your behalf, but you must make the final buying decision.
In many Middle Eastern and North African countries guides work on commission for sales of tourism related merchandise, and may not always act in your best interests, although they pretend to do so.
It is always best to read up on your destination country or region before departure. This way you will appreciate every detail more, and be able to judge for yourself how “good” or truthful the local guide is.
If you are for sun, sand, fun, you really don’t need a human guide but a good guidebook.
The following guidebooks are popular:
AAA/CAATour book (English only)
Baedecker (all major languages)
Cadogan’s (English only)
Fodor’s (English only)
Ulysses Travel guide
Wallpaper City Guides
World’s most popular countries
U S A
The United Kingdom
Note: The U S A has the highest income from turism due to the stregth of the U S dollar.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.