I decided to write an article about tourist guides, people who guide visitors in the language of their choice and who interpret the cultural and natural heritage of a zone. There are many guides in La Antigua Guatemala but, why a tourist guide? Well, to help me to answer this query I met Marco Krohell, Supervisor of Touristic Services of the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT), who agreed to an interview.
What advantages are there in using the services of a tour guide in La Antigua?
To begin, one of the benefits could be, at an economic level, the promotion of the economic activity, speaking of tourism. That is, all the people who benefits of the guide’s work, the guides themselves and their families are benefited of the fact that a person or group can take their service. Also, the fact that touristic activities are formal economy.
The guides keeping themselves in constant training, even more if they have the incentive of being hired, this way they increment their level of education. To renew their permit it’s required that they demonstrate forty hours of academic training yearly, related to the subject of tourism, or their touristic career.
And from the touristic point of view, since the tourist are the ones who hired them obviously, they’ll definitely have adequate and reliable information about history, culture, architecture, just to mention some of the aspects in which the city is rich in. Aspects that necessarily have to be shown not only by a local person, that has knowledge about them, but that can also transmit to them that essence of the city that can´t be obtained if the tourists or visitors do it on their own. Any person who had taken a guided tour in any part of the world, versus, reaching the same destiny without a guided tour, it’s a different experience. From my point of view, this would be the three key points, economy, education, and touristic experience.
Any particular reason why you would recommend a tourist guide?
Well, it would be immerse in the previous three, but we could even add, a topic of better use of time and safety. Complementary points but, let’s say that for the persons that come here for a day, that have a day pass, or for some reason have little time to see the city and never had come here before, a guide can speed up their tour and maximize the number of places they visit.
How to recognize an authorized tour guide?
To begin with, and the most important, there are four classifications of tour guides. These ones are accredited with different types of academic training, time of training, and the specific area where they´ll be accredited to guide. There are four colors of licenses, the four of them are accredited with a polycarbonate of the size of a driver’s license that they need to have at sight. It can be green, red, blue or yellow.
The green is the communitarian guide, the one who lives and guides in the same geographic space. The local guide, that is the red one, has a determined geographic area that´s where he´s going to be accredited, whether or not he lives there. The guide with the blue license is the general guide, with more academic training, has authorization to guide in all the country. And the Yellow, has the same academic formation as the general guide with the difference that de yellow guide is a specialized guide, with a college career that will accredited him or her in the specialization that the guide applies for. And the most important thing, and the only thing with value to recognize a guide is the license, this has to be at sight at all times and to be current.
What’s the best way to find a tour guide in La Antigua?
Well, normally tour guides are centralized in the main interest points of the city, they offer their services outside these points. The main one, and where more guides can be found is at the central plaza, normally they´re in the block in front of the cathedral. They can be found at other specific points, for example in the entrance of the cathedral ruins, in the entrance of Capuchinas, in the entrance of the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo museum complex, or in the old Santo Tomas School. A couple of other ones can be found in Santa Clara or in Iglesia de San Francisco.
Other way of reaching them is through a tour operator, the visitor needs to hire the services of some city tour from a travel agency, and the tour operator will be the one contacting the guide directly. These are the two ways. A third one, although less frequent is useful, is that people call, send an email, or come directly to INGUAT, we have a list of authorized guides and with that list, thay can call a guide directly and make an appointment.