The tourist guides’ main professional body, the Malta Union of Tourist Guides, is holding a national symposium via Zoom, on Friday. The theme of the symposium is ‘Quality Guiding for Quality Tourism’.
“The aim of the MUTG symposium, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the organisation, is to make all the relevant people in our precious industry aware that quality tourism can only be realised by quality players qualified in the tourism field,” MUTG president Frans van Avendonk said.
“This can be achieved by providing the best training to those who want to be players, to continue this training perpetually, but also by regulating and legislating in such a way that legitimate operators and users are protected from pirate or rogue operators who do not follow rules and standards to the detriment of the local tourist product.”
Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli will officially open the symposium. She will be followed by eight speakers covering the full gamut of quality tourism.
Dane Munro, a resident academic at the Institute for Tourism, Travel and Culture (ITTC) at the University of Malta and an active researcher in faith-based tourism and history, will speak on ‘Tourist guides as a source of quality’.
The owners of the Argentinian specialist tour operator Dopazo and Ravenna, Hugo Dopazo and Jorge Ravenna, will discuss ‘The tourist guide as key to a memorable traveller experience’, based on the firm belief that it is the human element that makes any trip memorable.
Practising lawyer Michael Tanti-Dougall, who heads the firm Tanti-Dougall & Associates, which is a full, active member of the International Forum of Travel & Tourism Advocates (IFTTA), will speak on ‘Regulating the tourist guides’ profession in Malta and Gozo’, while referring to some other jurisdictions within the EU.
Efi Kalampoukidou, president of the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (FEG) and a qualified licenced tourist guide in Greek, English and German for the whole of Greece, will speak on ‘The way forward – best practice on tourist guiding in Europe’.
Tom Hooper, MBE, who works as a professionally qualified ‘Blue Badge’ tourist guide and tutor, based in London, will speak on ‘Quality and standards – a perspective from the UK, home of the Blue Badge’. Hooper is founder president of the Institute of Tourist Guiding, past president of the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations and has served on the executive board of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations.
Quality tourism can only be realised by quality players qualified in the tourism field
MUTG treasurer Paul Spiteri will speak on ‘The economic impact of tourist guiding’. Apart from holding degrees in economics and business administration, Spiteri is licensed to guide in Maltese, English, Italian, French and Spanish and has been guiding since 2013.
Former MUTG president Glorianne Mizzi, a lecturer and tourist guide trainer at the Institute of Tourism Studies, will speak on ‘Ensuring quality: prospects for the future’. Mizzi has been an active guide since 1996 and is a former executive board member on the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (FEG) and a former board director on the Malta Tourism Authority.
The target audience for the symposium, van Avendonk said, are all the major players in tourism who should ensure that the best quality possible is achieved.
“These include the rule makers, enforcers and the people who deliver the service to the consumer. All need to be convinced of the need and the results of regulation. It is not about protecting those delivering but about the product and the consumer,” he said.
“Currently, there are some obstacles which hinder the highest standards from being achieved. But at least we have now found a willing ear in the Ministry for Tourism and good intentions to move forward for the best interest of all.”
The symposium will be held on Friday, September 25 from 9.30am. Those wishing to attend the symposium, for which there is no registration fee, are asked to send an e-mail to mutgsecretary @gmail.com. They are encouraged to join the session from 9.15am.
There will be a Q&A session at the end of the speeches and the symposium, which will be moderated by MUTG committee member Maria Rosner, is expected to draw to a close at noon.
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