#EnglishTourismWeek19: Behind the scenes of a Chichester Tour Guide
Our series of blogs for #EnglishTourismWeek19 celebrates all that’s great about the Chichester region. This time, Craig Gershater of Chichester Tour Guides (and also Chairman of Visit Chichester!) gives us a snapshot of how he became a tour guide.
I saw an advert in the local Cambridge City newspaper about an upcoming one-year course to become a qualified tourist guide. As a dyed-in-the-wool research scientist over many years I realised that I was pretty much a ‘nerd’ with not many outside interests like art, history, architecture. I was accepted onto the course, which was very tough, with lectures every week and numerous written and practical exams at the end. Having passed, I proudly received my Institute of Tourist Guiding (ITG) ‘Green Badge’ (which made me a city specialist). I started guiding tours around the city of Cambridge and most interestingly the colleges of the University including specialist tours on the ‘History of Science’. I became obsessed, studying and building new tours and learning my craft.
Having relocated to Chichester in West Sussex, I saw an advert for a new course for South East England, this time for the coveted ITG ‘Blue Badge’ a regional and city specialist. "That might be fun to do’, I thought, and signed up. Almost two years later, and after many hundreds of miles of travel around South East England I passed even more exams, won a prize (!) and was awarded my ITG ‘Blue Badge’. There quickly followed another ‘Green Badge’ for Chichester and a city badge for Portsmouth, so I could definitely claim to be a qualified tourist guide for a large part of the south of England, and because I can speak German I was guiding in two languages when needed.
A group of us who gained the Chichester qualification decided to form a tour guide group “Chichester Tour Guides” made up of ITG only qualified guides operating throughout the region based around Chichester District.
So how do we do ‘it’?
Being a tour guide is all about the ‘recce’. I have been asked to do some unusual walking and coach tours over the years such as “I would like a four day tour on the Romans in Sussex, by the way we can’t walk very far”; “We are a group with a profound interest in the history of the Reformation and we like walking”. So, all the jobs we do require an initial recce of the sites of interest and assembling interesting facts to pass onto our visitors. These tours are not walking lectures, people engage us to be informed and have fun! The Chichester Highlights Turn Up Tour we do every Sunday from the cathedral tower (starting at 11:30) lasts about one and half hours and takes people into nooks and crannies that even the locals may not know about. Every tour is different, we get to meet a wide range of people and indeed learn a lot from them! Come and join in one day and see for yourself.
To celebrate #EnglishTourismWeek19, we’re also offering everyone who signs up to our e-newsletter the chance to win prizes from a host of top attractions across the region, including a guided tour of Chichester for up to six people, courtesy of Chichester Tour Guides. To find out more, click here.