Tour guide (short RL for Reiseleiter) is not a protected job title and therefore does not require any specific professional access requirements.
Nevertheless, employers, such as travel agencies and tour operators, place certain requirements on the applicants that are necessary to carry out the activities of the tour guide.
According to the definition of the CEN (European Committee for Standardization, European Standard EN13809), the term “tour guide” is defined as: “Person who guides and supervises the travel process on behalf of the tour operator, thereby ensuring that the program is in accordance with the contract between the tour operator and traveling customers, and who gives local practical information.”
The profession of “tour guide” is not an apprenticeship, but there are various comprehensive courses in Austria that conclude with an examination. The requirements for RL are very complex: Knowledge of art, culture and history, regional studies (both of one’s own country and the country of travel), sound language skills, rhetoric, organizational talent, psychological empathy and assertiveness are required. This knowledge and more are imparted in the courses.
The organizers are expected that the RL covers all these subject areas, the RL is the representative of the organizer on site and therefore the first point of contact for the guests. Most of the time, RL also give explanations that are reserved for local tour guides, which often leads to major problems. In Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg (city), Austria, Portugal, and Spain in particular, the activities of tourist guides are regulated by the state, and violations can be punished with heavy fines. In the following EU countries, the activity of the tour guide is not subject to local regulation (e.g. London): Denmark, Germany, England, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden.
However, a ruling was issued in October 2006 that casts doubt on the freedom of leadership: In Principle No. 117S / 06 of May 18, 2006, the Italian Supreme Court ruled that RL of an EU country of origin travel groups that are temporarily during a “closed tour” Reside in another EU country without being allowed to carry a local license. The judges justified this by saying that European law has priority over regional laws and that – according to the case law of the European Court of Justice – the freedom to provide services for RL within the European Union must be guaranteed. A judgment, which is not considered a license for guided tours on site, detailed explanations remain reserved for authorized local guides!
It is in all of our interests to have recognition of the training and activities of RL at home and abroad, because only a good RL will be able to give guests a lasting impression of the country.