The Blue Badge is the qualification for professional tourist guides. Using a Blue Badge guide ensures a standard of skill that is of International standing.
The guides go through rigorous training and are examined orally, practically and by written examination. At the end of this training, guides should have a ‘core’ knowledge that includes geography, history, religion, the legal system and, within their distinct region, extensive local knowledge.
Blue Badge guides can guide virtually anywhere, on foot, by car (there is a distinct group of driver-guides), on the train, on coaches or in boats! Offer Blue Badge guides a challenge - say a hot air balloon - and we will rise to it! The guides have many special interests: castles, archaeology and stately homes may be pretty obvious, but what about piracy, clans, lapidary and whisky. Blue Badge guides speak over 34 languages, which include Cantonese, Estonian, Hebrew, Malay, Slovene, Esperanto and Welsh.
In 1999 Blue Badge guides were awarded the prestigious Tourism Society’s award for their services to the industry.
There are two organisations that represent Blue Badge guides within the United Kingdom:
The Association of Professional Tourist Guides (APTG)
APTG was founded in 1989 as the professional body for London Blue Badge guides. It is an autonomous branch of the Unite union. APTG is non party political and seeks to promote the highest possible standards in tourism in general and guiding
The Guild of Registered Tourist Guides
In 1950 the Guild of Guide Lecturers (GGL) was founded by seven guides within the historic Southwark tavern known as the George Inn. The 1951 Festival of Britain was staged to cheer people up after the war and many tourists visited London. GGL was to grow into The Guild of Registered Tourist Guides, as re-named in 1995. The Guild is dedicated to maintaining the highest professional standards. It represents about 2000 members, based throughout the fifteen regions of the United Kingdom, with ages ranging from 22 to 95. The guild is non political and is widely respected, consulted by government and local authorities. It is a member of the World Federation of Tourist Guides and the Federation of European Guides.