New network guides the way for best tourist visits

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A new network for enterprising tour guides across Argyll and the Isles has been launched in Oban to give visitors the best experience.

Plans are in place to organise a seminar early next year for its members to help them make the most of VisitScotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters.

Freelance walking tour guide Anne Fraser was at a Cultural Heritage Counts conference in Oban last week to tell delegates the news and promote just some of the many tours and experiences already on offer.

Other tour guides from Port of Oban and BID4Oban were also there to help sign up new members.

The initiative, supported by Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative, Oban & Lorn Tourism Alliance, Port of Oban and Bid4Oban, is about  bringing tour guides together to share best ideas, receive training and find ways of working with each other to come up with new tours and experiences celebrating the area’s rich history and heritage.

Last year in response to big demand from cruise ship visitors,  the town commissioned the Scottish Tour Guides Association to provide Yellow
Badge training for 12 guides who now give walking tours of Oban centre and  Kerrera.

Extra bespoke tours and experiences have also been added with scope for much more to come, keeping business in the area while providing a service for large national and international tour operators, says Rab Black, chairman of Port of Oban Cruise Group who is also a tour guide.

He said: ‘Visitors want a balance between facts and fun. Local guides can add colour and perspective to history and heritage, and we find guests are as interested in community and real people as they are in buildings and monuments.
‘Our new Guides Network will bring together all guides in our area so we have a central register of passionate and skilled individuals who love to share their knowledge and expertise, but may not have the business contacts and access to the wider tourism industry operating by themselves.’

To attract more members, the network is offering all guides in the Oban and Lorn area an opening enticement of 20 per cent discount on joining OLTA.

Caption: Tour guides, Michelle McAnally Woods and Linda Battison, treat participants to the first free tour of Oban back in May 2018. 16_T19_Firstwalkingtour01