Sharing our passion for special places

Giant's Causeway Visitor Experience Ranger Keith Acheson with members of Tour Guides NI

Irish folk may be renowned for their gift of the gab, but it wasn’t until recently that those who make their living from talking, had a professional affiliation in Northern Ireland.

The launch of Tour Guides NI, the region’s first tour guiding network, is an enthusiastic move to enhance the role of tour guiding within the rapidly growing tourism landscape.

Northern Ireland’s largest conservation charity, the National Trust, supported the launch of the new organisation and will work with Tour Guides NI  to offer training and expertise that already forms part of the Giant’s Causeway’s Visitor Experience.

‘We’re keen to share our passion and love for the site,’ explained Keith Acheson, a Visitor Experience Ranger at the Giant’s Causeway,. ‘By doing this we also strengthen our links with independent tour guides throughout Northern Ireland’.

" We’re keen to share our passion and love for the Giant's Causeway"
- Keith Acheson, Giant's Causeway Visitor Experience Ranger

As well as being a unifying force among the region’s  tour guides, affiliation with Tour Guides NI delivers on the expectation of certain standards of service.

Levels of guiding range from 2, (specific sites or routes) through to level 4, (certifies the guide to conduct tours anywhere in Northern Ireland or Ireland). The level of guide selected is according to the needs of the visiting tour group. The aim is to professionalise all the levels of guiding, not just level 4, as has been the norm in the past.

‘There are hundreds of guides out there and often no-one knows what the other is doing. It’s important for us all to be working together’, explained David McAnirn, Tour Guides NI secretary. ‘This is one way of pulling all the strands together for the overall benefit of the tourism industry in Northern Ireland’.
" It’s important for us all to be working together"
- David McAnirn, Tour Guides NI

Visitor Experience ranger Keith Acheson has worked as a level 2 guide at the Giant’s Causeway with the National Trust for 3 years.

‘Tour Guides NI caters to different levels of tourism; it’s all inclusive,’ said Keith. ‘Our guides at the causeway have the opportunity to obtain an Ordinary National Certificate in guiding. This is a recognizable qualification – it gives them kudos’.

‘In the future we hope to make the Giant’s Causeway a training centre for guides. We’ll offer them the opportunity to do a module on the National Trust and the important work that we do in terms of both tourism and, importantly, conservation’.