Summary of the Occupation
In an effort to promote economic diversification, the tourism industry in Trinidad and Tobago has been listed as one of the areas earmarked for expansion and as such, much emphasis has been placed on the promotion of both domestic and foreign tourism. There are several elements which constitute a “fulfilling” tourist experience; the tour guide industry is a critical component in this experience.
In its official incarnation, the tour guide industry, through the Tour Guide Association, is legislatively partnered with the Ministry of Tourism. Formed in May 2005, the Tourism Company Limited (TDC) is the implementation arm of the Ministry of Tourism, dedicated to realizing the vision for tourism in Trinidad and Tobago. This vision is guided by several long-term goals and the intention is for tourism to contribute to Trinidad and Tobago’s attainment of developed national status by the year 2020.
The demand for tour guides is seasonal. Consequently, tour-guiding is not considered a daily occupation; 95% of the persons who engage in tour-guiding, have full time jobs.
There are two main job descriptions in this industry:
- General Tour Guide
- Speciality Tour Guide
The General Tour Guide is expected to manage the visiting group (both locals and foreigners) and deliver the tour itinerary in a professional and welcoming manner, ensuring the sustainability and preservation of the activity or spaces visited.
Furthermore, the tour guide provides reliable information and ensures the safety of the tour party. The tour guide should be first-aid certified, and, having working knowledge of a foreign language is also considered an asset in the industry. The tour guide should also have an engaging personality.
The function of the tour guide is not limited to its title description; tour guides also provide critical services, particularly to foreign visitors, in terms of organizing and managing tourist trips and visits, for example, arranging transportation and creating an itinerary.
There are, however, several types of tours which require specialist tour guides, for example, Heritage Tours which are engaged by specialist tour guides attached to the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago.
Main categories of Speciality Tour Guides are:
- Boat operator-Tour Guide
- Tour Guide, Sightseeing
- Dive Guide/Dive Master
- Tour Guide, Turtle Watching
- Visitor Guide
BOAT OPERATOR – TOUR GUIDE
Organised and conducts tours to reefs and swamps to observe wildlife and vegetation:
- Communicates with individuals and agencies to plan tours
- Organises bird watching and wildlife observation tours to suit customers’ interests
- Gives brief talks on tours to be undertaken
- Drives a boat to a reef or through a swamp stopping frequently to allow visitors to observe plant and animal life
- Attends to customers at sea, rendering first-aid when necessary
TOUR GUIDE, SIGHTSEEING
Accompanies visitors to desired destinations and provides related information:
- Meets and awaits visitors and escorts them to their desired destination
- Accompanies clients on trips to and from places of interest, entertainment venues and shopping engagements
- Identifies different points of interest during tours and provides background information
DIVE GUIDE/DIVE MASTER
Plans and conducts recreational dives undertaking the responsibility for navigation, safety and emergency procedures and accident management:
- Plans dive tours based on expressed interests of the dive group
- Performs required checks on scuba equipment
- Briefs divers on dive site, planned activities, safety and emergency procedures and environmental concerns
- Conducts dive, making diving positions known by use of surface marker buoy
- Completes dive log on completion of trip
TOUR GUIDE, TURTLE WATCHING
Accompanies and provides information to groups visiting turtle-nesting sites and assists with tracking growth and movement of turtles:
- Escorts visitors to turtle nesting site, following stipulated routes
- Provides information on activities of turtles
- Records number of visitors on each tour and prepares a report on night’s proceedings
- Tags turtles to facilitate future recognition
- Implants microchip tracking devices into turtles for future electronic monitoring
- Measures turtles and records information in data book
Meets visitors to the country and provides information on the capital and country:
- Greets visitors in streets of capital city or at national events
- Provides information regarding directions, methods of transport, points of interest in capital and country and local customs
- Supplies information brochures
- Assists visitors in cases of emergency by contacting home base
Trinidad’s bustling port, industrialized economy, and high murder rate stray from the region’s traditional vacation island image of white sand beaches and turquoise water. Unlike the economies of neighboring islands that are driven by throngs of vacationing Americans and Europeans, industrialized Trinidad lacks any all-inclusive resorts.
The economy of Tobago – the smaller, prettier, and heavily-subsidized other half of the twin-island republic – is driven by tourism, both domestic and international. Once seen as the honeymoon mecca for British newlyweds, Tobago’s stature has slipped in the face of competition from other better-equipped neighbors, including St. Lucia, Barbados, and Grenada, and its international arrivals have decreased by 75 percent in the past 10 years.
While tourism is a stated government priority, it is very much a niche sector with many small and medium sized businesses purchasing relatively small quantities of U.S. products. Of the 460,000 arrivals that Trinidad and Tobago attracted last year, most are business travelers and niche tourists, including carnival revelers, wildlife enthusiasts, and yachters.
Substantial energy price declines in late-2014 have rekindled economic diversification discussions, however, the core issues facing the sector, like labor shortages, customer service, accommodation, transport linkages and crime must be addressed.
- Medical tourism
- Festivals and event
Cultural tourism, musical heritage, shopping and theme parks also represent opportunities to attract TT travelers.
Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Tourism
Trinidad and TobagoTravel and Tourism