Tour guides wanted

Tourism Ministry looking for people fluent in languages such as Polish, Japanese and Indonesian.

By RON FRIEDMAN
August 6, 2010 05:01
2 minute read.
Ministry of Tourism Logo

Tourism 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Tourism Ministry announced on Thursday that it was launching a NIS 1.5 million grant allocation program to attract and train new tour guides who speak sought after languages.

Anticipating growth in tourism from various countries in the upcoming years, the ministry’s Professional Training Department is seeking to train people who are fluent in languages such as Polish, Japanese, Indonesian, Czech and Swedish to lead tour groups in Israel. For that purpose it is offering suitable candidates grants of up to NIS 12,000 towards tour guide certification.

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The Tourism Ministry emphasized in a press release the importance of the level of service tourists receive from the moment of arrival to the time of departure and expressed its desire to expand the supply of languages spoken by licensed tour guides “an integral and central part of the welcoming process.”

“Recently, there has been an impressive growth in incoming tourism from the main source countries, alongside growth from new markets, which has created a lack of supply in native-speaker tour guides in certain languages, including Italian, Polish, Portuguese, German, Romanian, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Swedish, Indonesian, Czech, Greek and Dutch,” read the statement.

The statement continued to cite examples showing large increases in incoming tourists during the first six months of the year from places like Indonesia (173% increase from last year) China (112% increase) and Portugal (139%).

Other countries showing impressive growth in the same time frame include Germany (35%) and Italy (58%).

“The tour guides who escort the tourist from the moment he arrives in Israel to the time of his departure, are among the most important factors in the tourism industry in terms of their influence on the visitor experience and on their decision to make a return visit and become a ‘tourism ambassador.’ More and more tourists are expected to visit Israel from more and more countries in the coming years and we must prepare ourselves, starting today, to greet them with the highest level of service,” said Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov.

Candidates for the project will be required to pass certain aptitude tests in order to qualify for the grant.

The Israel Tour Guides Association congratulated the Tourism Ministry on the move stating they would welcome into the association any certified tour guide.

Yossi Weiss, the group’s chairman added that a quicker way to achieve the same result would be to offer grants to aid current guides to learn additional languages. “If knowledgeable and experienced guides who are already working in the field were to receive grants towards concentrated language courses, we would all benefit,” he said.

Information on Tourism Ministryapproved and -supervised tour guide courses can be found on the ministry’s Web site. Grant requests for the present financial year must be presented by September 1.

Tour guide certification requires attending one of the approved tour guide courses available in schools across the country. Students are expected to attend more than 520 hours in class and 80 days in the field. Courses are usually spread out over one and a half to two years and cost roughly NIS 20,000. Courses are taught in Hebrew and English.

Payment of the grant will be delivered in two stages, half upon successful completion of half the syllabus and half upon passing the certification test.


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