Tour and travel guides (NOC 6531)

About this job

Tour and travel guides, also known as tour directors or step-on tour guides, escort people on trips or give tours of locations of interest.

People in this occupation:

  • may travel with tourists to their destination
  • may work at a place of interest, such as a city, historical site or theme park
  • provide background information, describe features and answer questions from visitors and tourists
  • work for tour operators, tour guide agencies, convention services, attractions and other establishments
  • may be self-employed
  • should have an interest in the travel destination or tour route they are presenting
  • should have strong verbal communication skills for public speaking
  • should have good planning skills as well as the ability to multitask
  • have conflict resolution skills and the ability to manage large groups
  • should be detail-oriented, customer-service oriented and an excellent driver
  • should have knowledge of other languages
Common job titles
  • calèche driver / operator
  • director, tour
  • guide, canoeing / whitwater rafting
  • guide, dogsledding / snowmobiling
  • guide, fishing / hunting / trapping
  • guide, hiking / rock climbing

Duties

Tour guides:

  • transport or escort individuals or groups on tours of cities, waterways and industrial and other establishments
  • conduct tours that are less than one day in length
  • describe points of interest, answer questions and provide information
  • provide historical and cultural facts related to the site
  • may collect tour fees, which may require the use of a point of sale (POS) wireless terminal
  • may need to conduct pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspections

Travel guides/tour directors:

  • escort individuals and groups on vacation and business trips
  • conduct tours that are often longer than one day in length
  • make sure that reservations for transportation and accommodations are confirmed and that itineraries are met
  • visit and describe points of interest and plan and carry out recreational activities
  • resolve problems with itineraries, service and accommodations
  • take responsibility for the safety of the group

Work environment

Tour and travel guides typically spend most of their work day on their feet or on tour buses. They also spend most of the work day speaking to clients while providing tour information. These workers need high energy levels during the entire length of the tour. Most tour and travel guides work irregular hours since tours may take place during evenings and weekends and on holidays.

Travel guides usually work long days while on trips. They are responsible for maintaining the tour and helping the group if there are transportation breakdowns, medical emergencies or other unexpected incidents. Depending on the tour, some workers may have to travel long distances for extended periods of time.

Insights from industry

Limited new opportunities for these workers will arise in expanding tourism businesses, as well from the need to replace those who retire.

Industry sources report a growing need for multilingual tour guides, so there will be increasing demand for those with other languages. Tour participants are also now more interested in background information on a tour, such as details about the natural setting, political background and Aboriginal culture. Guides who can educate, as well as entertain will be in high demand.

Industry sources also report growth in tourism in the years following the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, as those who visited the province for the Games return to travel to other areas.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

This occupation is considered an entry-level job. New employees may obtain positions as tour guide/tour leader, interpretive guide or travel expert.

With further experience and education, these workers may progress to jobs such as tour guide supervisor or tour operator. They may also obtain positions in the administrative office, assisting with tour bookings, market planning or tour development.

Additional resources