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Abstract

Tourist guides are the essential interface between a tourism destination and its visitors, and are very much responsible for the overall impression of the destination and satisfaction offered. However, of the small amount of literature published, very few studies have asked tourist guides their views and opinions, or have built up a profile of the tourist guide. This paper attempts to redress the balance. This study, concentrating on professional tourist guides in Dublin, Ireland.

Potential threats and challenges to the future of the industry are explored, particularly threats from unqualified guides and from the introduction of information technology (IT). Primary research was carried out with the Tourist Guides of Dublin, Ireland as this destination contains the largest number of tourist guides on the island of Ireland. The employers of tourist guides were asked their opinions on issues related to tourist guiding in a series of in-depth interviews.

Many of the conditions of the role characterised universally in the existing literature as negative, suit Dublin tourist guides. They like the challenge; the seasonality; and the freelance and part-time nature of the job. Key issues to emerge from the study include the demand from tourist guides to have their industry licensed and regulated, and that the practice of driving-guiding is outlawed. A key recommendation for the sustainability of the profession is to establish a system of on-going training and assessment for guides to ensure that high standards of performance by professional tourist guides are maintained. The findings of this research make a significant contribution to the knowledge in the field of tourist guiding, as well as making a number of unique contributions to the understanding of that industry in Ireland. The future of the tourist guiding industry is optimistic although, at the moment, that future is seasonal and part-time.

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