I dedicate my first blog to all those who have contributed to my professional career. Maybe you might not even be conscious that you have enriched my knowledge!
Thanks for all the conversations we have had in the most hidden corners of Andalusia and please don´t forget to comment this article.
In 1992 heritage and cultural tourism, as a subcategory, is recognized by the European Commission as an opportunity to “boost local culture and that it can aid the seasonal and geographic spread of tourism” (Richards, G., 1995). As a result the mentioned institution transmits its commitment to cultural tourism which has been translated into policies according to their agenda. We often can observe that the former investigations on heritage and cultural tourism coming to a state of art where the studies are normally executed in a limited time span and are centered on a city or small geographic region. Therefore the perception of European cultural tourism is often based on information directly related to consumption and production. In addition, many authors who define the two main words of the concept “cultural” and “tourism” find it very hard to limit the definition. One of the main conclusions and from investigation points of view is that many definitions of both terms breed a great confusion.
A general fact is the existing small group of “specific cultural tourists which are among the heaviest consumers of heritage attractions…”. “The specific cultural tourists are also able to rationalize their motives for cultural consumption much more clearly than other cultural visitors”. It is evident that the cultural tourism market is not a new type of tourism nor is it a mare activity related to ancient heritage. Nevertheless having a steady demand and consumption heritage can become a characteristic of a region or city which can be used as a tool for social distinction.
If we apply the mentioned approach to cultural tourism in Andalusia we can confirm from a professional point of view that not everything what happens with guided groups is congruent with what the legal framework might affirm.
A multidisciplinary approach to tour guides in Andalusia is a challenge as the first hurdle is to define this profession. Still nowadays “guiding is a complex concept” (1985, Cohen), as tour guides must have many skills to upfront daily dares. In addition to this, three key circumstances must be considered in Andalusia such as (1) recent market changes, as for example the liberalization of services in the European Union, (2) public administrations predisposition to understand the importance of tour guides as they are considered by tourists together with the incoming hostesses and the receptionists the visual faces of the mentioned southern Spanish destination, and (3) the provincial or national collective aggrupation of tour guides.
Tour guides are transversal agents, but therefor it is necessary to legally contextualize this profession as well as describe in detail many other specific details of very highly frequented sites (the Alhambra & Generalife Gardens, the Picasso Museum, the Caves of Nerja, The Mosque – Cathedral of Cordoba, the Cathedral of Seville, etc.) which influence on the service quality and satisfaction of tourists.
Throughout the history of Spanish tourism legislation the figure of the tour guide has always been kept in mind. Considering that mass tourism started end of the 50`s beginning of the 60`s at the Mediterranean European coastline, Spain, in order to guarantee certain service quality and a trustworthy image towards middle European tour operators, the Ministry of Tourism and Information (1964) created a legal framework which defined three different categories of guiding profiles, (1) the tour guide (accompanies the group only in Spanish language), (2) the tour guide interpreter (accompanies the group only in any accredited language other than Spanish)and (3) the messenger guide(accompanies the group only on the route, usually a coach).
Though, when Spain approved its constitution, it defined very well that each autonomous community would have the legal competence to plan and promote tourism within its territory (art. 148.1.18ª of the Spanish Constitution from 1978). The statutory allocation, between the years 1979-1983, granting the exclusive legislative powers on tourism did not result to the immediate approval of regional laws. It took some time as these matters needed a comprehensive and systematic study of the management over tourism and therefor also over tour guides.
My question here is, have the regional governments actually given an adequate legal framework for the tour guides?, and,
Is the very well known European Liberalazation of the Services Industries influencing on the service quality of guided tourist groups?
Please don´t hesitate to invite other guides, tour operators, etc. to this blog to whom this debate may concern.
May I emphasize, this is not a political debate. It is rather more a social networking to exchange opinions and experiences!
The idea is to enrich our knowledge on how things function in theory and in practice.