Winchester’s Tourist Guides welcome all

Always keen to develop their professional skills, Winchester’s Blue Badge Tourist Guides have recently attended a disability awareness course tailor-made for tourist guides. The course was arranged by Winchester City Council’s award winning Tourist Information Centre (TIC) in conjunction with the Winchester Area Tourist Guides Association in order to increase the range of guiding services available for customers with disabilities.

The Welcome All training course was part of the Welcome to Excellence range of customer care courses provided by the tourism skills partnership of Tourism South East and recognised nationally by the tourism industry. It covered a range of sensory, mobility and learning difficulties, giving the guides the understanding and techniques they need to communicate more effectively with their customers.

Elizabeth Proudman, Chairman of the Winchester Area Tourist Guides Association, said: "We found the training extremely useful, particularly as our trainer was also a qualified tourist guide. It showed us that there are many simple adjustments we can make which will benefit, in many cases, all our customers and not only those with disabilities."

The guides have already introduced an ‘Armchair Tour’ for those who have an interest in the city’s history, but are unable to walk. 2003 also saw the very successful pilot of a tour for those with visual impairments, with the help of staff at the Great Hall, which involved a variety of props to touch and feel. It is hoped that the Welcome All course will prompt many more such developments.

Alison Woods, Tourist Information Centre Manager, said: "This training course is just one of the City Council’s initiatives to prepare itself and its partners for the final implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act in October 2004. It follows on from a large-scale Disability Awareness Day held at Winchester Guildhall earlier this month, which helped to raise awareness of the needs, expectations and rights of those with disabilities who live in or visit the Winchester District."

Winchester’s Blue Badge Guides regularly lead groups of visitors and residents around the District of Winchester. Their love of history, sense of humour and passion for the city is contagious and encourages visitors to return time and time again. Regular tours take place throughout the year, departing from inside the Tourist Information Centre. Tickets cost a modest £3 and accompanying children are free. The guides can also provide private tours or talks for groups and can accommodate any number of people and cater for special interests and foreign languages.

Full details of guided tours in the Winchester District in 2004 are available from Winchester Tourist Information Centre, located in Broadway. The TIC, which was named ‘Tourist Information Centre of the Year’ for the South East Region at the end of last year, can be contacted on 01962 840500 or e-mail Tour details can also be found on