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Oct 23, 2015

Aquila Trains Tour Guides in Belize City

The cruise industry’s top tour guide trainers are in Belize City this week. Representatives from the Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence and Tour Guide Training are here at the invitation of the Belize Tourism Board which is looking to raise the level where the tour guide experience is concerned. It’s happening this week at the Biltmore and Mike Rudon stopped in. Here’s the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Fifty-five tour guides from across the country today opted to try for international certification after intensive training under the Aquila Tour Guide Excellence Training program. Aquila operates out of Canada and is one of the top training facilities and operators in the industry. Today’s training was conducted by two specialists in the field.


Valdemar Andrade

Valdemar Andrade, Director of Destination Planning, B.T.B.

“As we are looking at our regional competition – Mexico and now we have Cuba coming online, we have to raise the bar of how we are going to put forward our tour products, our port. And we need to be able to raise the rankings and ratings of our port to stay in the game. As you know in this area we have over three hundred calls…that’s very good for most of the ports in this area – we do very well – but we want to ensure that we keep that and that we keep raising the bar.”


Beth Kelly Hatt, Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence

“Aquila is the official trainer for the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, so all the cruise lines recognize the name, they recognize the training. They know that it’s making a difference and helping in many destinations that we have been. I even had one of the cruise lines in a recent article say that she really is happy when she hears Aquila is coming to a country because she knows that it’s going to make a difference in their guest experience.”


The training is for seasoned tour guides with three years or more in the industry. Prospective trainees had to write an essay on why they wanted to attend the course as well as present recommendations from persons in the industry. B.T.B. is assuming ninety percent of the cost, but guides also had to invest – to show that they are buying into this very critical component of the industry.


Valdemar Andrade

“They will be running them through two main things – one is how do you run a tour in terms of information, keeping fresh, keeping up to date, information, knowing your customer, how do you interface with your customer…but also from the operations side how do you ensure guest satisfaction, how do you ensure that your guest is getting the best information that they are supposed to get to be able to go back to their country and tell the best story about the best time they had in Belize as a destination.”


Beth Kelly Hatt

Beth Kelly Hatt

“The tour guide, we always say, is one of the most import aspects of the tourism industry…every frontline staff, but in the cruise industry especially it’s the tour guide that is going to make the biggest difference. We’ve had cruise executives tell us that people will remember they came to a country, they may remember what tour they did, they may remember where they went, but they always remember their tour guide and usually by name, so it’s important.”


The training carried out by Aquila is considered, in a nutshell, advanced training for the cruise sector – part of an ongoing regimen.


Valdemar Andrade

“We do two things – one, we have the general guide course that we do every year. We’re also looking at the professional corps and the core components of those right now and trying to roll out a new mode and method of training. We have noticed that there are different levels of people due to experience and due to training. Every year we also require the guides who have already been trained to do refresher. We do update courses…whether it’s in presentation – depending on where we see the deficiencies by destination, is how we train them and work with that destination in order to get them up to scratch.”


The training will be over a four day period, after which guides will be required to sit an exam to receive certification. Mike Rudon for News Five.


If the tour guides are successful, they will be Florida and Caribbean Cruise Association certified, which will help Belize to be more recognized by cruise lines. The B.T.B. is hoping that at least seventy-five percent of guides will be FCCA certified in the next three to five years. 

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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