AN academic has called on the federal government to introduce a national accreditation system for tourism guides.
Charles Sturt University's Associate Professor Rosemary Black says the national benchmark is needed given the significant role tour guides play within the industry.
"The role of tour guides is underrated and undervalued," she said. "Tourism is so important to the Australian government that a licencing or accreditation system is required. "You need to establish proper qualifications; guides are our ambassadors."
The CSU lecturer offered her insights into the importance guides play in tourism to about 16 Sea Acres Rainforest Centre volunteers. Her topics covered the role guides play in improving the visitor experience, the positive effects guides have in tourism and the value of interacting with tour groups.
"Guides have the ability to provide strong environmental messages to groups," she said. "Research over the past 20 years clearly shows guided tours provide an increased understanding of key issues and add value to a tour through story-telling, interpretation, communication and inter-personal skills.
"Guides engage with a large cross-section of visitors - both local and international. They can have a very positive effect in role modelling good behaviour."
The associate professor holds a PhD from Monash University and joined the CSU staff 20 years ago. She is the course co-ordinator for Bachelor of Applied Science (Outdoor Recreation and Ecotourism) at the Port Macquarie campus.