Oman Observer

Local tour operator holds training programme for Omani tour guides

The digital world has already had its impact on the tourism sector as seen in the way how tourists use online options for flight and hotel bookings — a trend being replicated in tour guiding services as well. But to stay relevant and successful amid this transition, tour guides must find ways to deliver authentic experiences to their customers, according to an industry expert.
The intricacies of tour-guiding in the digital world were highlighted in a training programme organised by local tour operator Arabica Orient Tours for Omani tour guides. The focus of the programme was on the needs of tourists of today.
According to international guide trainer Govind Agarwal, who is affiliated with the World Federation of Tourist Guides Association (WFTGA) as the area representative for the Indian sub-continent), tourists have their own needs and expectations from guides.
Tourists from different continents have different desires and expectations according to the trainer ranging from food to language. Tourists can do their research online to know more about the country they want to visit but the key the tour operators have is personalised services.
“The guide is not just a guide he is a care provider, he is a companion as well as a friend and will try to give the best experience.
A tour guide’s job is all about delivering the best experience. A tourist does not take anything from a country and tourism is not a product — it is an experience and we, tour guides are here to deliver the experience rightly and pleasantly,” defined tour manager who has brought many groups from India to Oman,” said Agarwal.
Local Omani tour guide Ahmed al Zedjali, who has been in the trade for nearly a decade, says tourists have their own specific expectations. “It depends — some tourists like to experience the culture of the country, and others want to immediately go out and have adventure tourism and there are others who just want to enjoy the nature and quietness of the desert.
The tourists tell me they are enchanted with the variety of landscape in Oman.”
“WFTGA has set a standard of techniques for tour guides where he can deliver the experiences of his country, culture and heritage ensuring he is portraying the true picture of his country.
The guides also today require the ability to handle all types of tourists whether they are seeking for a city, adventure or religious tour.
The idea is the guide should be ready with information for example the tour guide ought to be able to advise the special requirements if a tourist wishes to go to a mosque — what they should or should not do,” Agarwal explained.