Last Call for Tourist Guides

It is not too late for would-be tourist guides in the Winchester area to apply for a place on a prestigious training course. Organisers are keen to ensure that no local talent is overlooked as they fill the last remaining places on a programme leading to national accreditation and the award of the official red and gold tourist guide badge of the city.

The course, which starts in September and lasts almost a year, is challenging and wide-ranging. It consists of a rigorous academic programme of lectures, site visits and project work, and requires students to take both written and practical examinations. It also includes elements such as disability awareness, customer care and communications skills. Successful completion qualifies recruits to lead tours around the Winchester District as a member of the Winchester Area Tourist Guides Association (WATGA).

WATGA is working with Winchester City Council's tourism service to provide this long-awaited course which is accredited by the national Institute of Tourist Guiding. A course is only run when there is a need to top up the pool of guides, so some people have been on a waiting list for several years. Programme Director Pamela Boyes said, "We have already interviewed a number of excellent candidates but we would hate to overlook anyone, particularly potential guides who can offer foreign language skills."

Winchester's tourist guides take turns on the rota for regular city tours and for seasonal and themed tours which can all be booked at the Tourist Information Centre. They also escort special interest groups, foreign language students and coach tours.

Winchester City Council's Head of Tourism Eloise Appleby said, "Our guides are the ambassadors for the District, often presenting the human face of Winchester to visitors - and a lasting impression. Whilst we have a strong team of around thirty guides, new faces bring new approaches and new ideas, which means more choice for our visitors and for the local people who also enjoy these tours."

The course costs £500 and takes place on Saturday mornings from September 2004 to July 2005. For an informal chat about what it entails or to request a prospectus, contact Pamela Boyes on tel: 023 8061 8644 or e-mail For full details of the guided tours in Winchester this year, pick up a free leaflet at the Tourist Information Centre on Broadway, e-mail or call 01962 840500.