Biosphere Experience Guide Training
The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere have just completed its first Biosphere Experiences Guide Training course as part of the SHAPE project – Sustainable Heritage Areas Partnerships for Eco-Tourism. Eight people completed the free training that took place over two weekends in May and June with one final day in August. What an amazing training course this has been!
Stef Lauer of Hands on Consulting led the training. Stef is involved in various aspects of guiding in her 15 year career. This includes a spell as Head of Operations for 5* adventure travel company, Wilderness Scotland, where she was involved in the development of their Wilderness Guide Training Programme. She is a trained Leave no Trace practitioner and has worked with businesses in the Highlands tailoring her Guiding the Extra Mile course to their individual needs. Stef has personal experience of setting up a guiding business, running events and engaging with the public therefore she is well positioned to be able share her knowledge and expertise to train new entrants to this growing market.
The course was aimed at people who were already passionate about their local area and had an interest in local culture, the outdoors, the arts, wildlife, heritage and history, dark skies, local produce and stories or legends. As a result the group was varied in their backgrounds and interests.
Week one covered how to provide and welcoming experience, how to engage and share information confidently, the art of story telling and delivering a guided experience using ‘Leave no Trace ‘principles
Week two, the final weekend covered the Golden Rules of Guiding, the customer journey and ‘A Sense of Place’ – place-based interpretation. Each participant planned and led a practical interpretation session around Glentrool on a chosen topic, incorporating their learning from the course and the Leave No Trace Eco-Training, bringing in their own personal experience and passion for the guiding area they are interested in. Furthermore lots of peer to peer support took place over the weekend and the group want to continue supporting each other. The feedback from the participants on the course was really positive. This comment on one of the evaluation forms sums the course up really well “This is one of the best courses I have attended for more reasons than I have space to write” !
The final session in August has been delivered by Visit Scotland and how they can help the guides develop the diverse and unique businesses and experiences they all deliver. Especially through social media.
Ed Forrest Co-ordinator for Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere says: “We hope that by providing this training opportunity it will encourage the start-up of new heritage tourism businesses who will provide unique, authentic experiences for visitors to our UNESCO Biosphere.”