With the continuing increase in visitor attractions and tourism in Northern Ireland, Belfast Met has responded to industry demands by offering the first Higher Education Level 4 Tour Guiding course, in partnership with Ulster University. The first cohort of graduands celebrated their success with special guests John McGrillen, Chief Executive of Tourism Northern Ireland and Wendy Langham who is the Belfast City Council Programme Director for Belfast Destination Hub.
The programme aims to develop high quality professional skills which will enhance the visitor experience, and is perfectly aligned with Tourism NI’s “Embrace a Giant Spirit” experience brand.
CEO of Tourism Northern Ireland, John McGrillen confirmed, “ I would like to congratulate all of the students on their achievements, and am delighted to see the growing interest in professional training for Tour Guides. Tourism Northern Ireland recognises that delivery of our “Embrace a Giant Spirit” experience brand ultimately depends on those who work within the industry, and ensures that Northern Ireland is at the forefront of providing great visitor experiences.”
Dr Jonathan Heggarty MBE, Director of Curriculum and Learner Success at Belfast Met who presented the certificates to the graduands confirmed, “We are delighted to celebrate the success of the students who have completed the Level 4 Tour Guiding qualification, and will continue to focus on Belfast Met’s ability to provide an agile and distinctive response to meet industry needs.”
The students that completed this course are from a wide range of backgrounds. One of the modules included business skills development, with students pitching a business idea to industry representatives in a ‘Dragons Den’ style scenario. Some of the graduands have since gone on to apply their new skills to develop their own tour guiding businesses.
Graduand Christine Donnelly said, “The course gave me the knowledge, confidence, and practical expertise to do just that. It has opened up the world of tourism in Northern Ireland to me, helped me to make the right connections, understand the opportunities available, and point me in the right direction of making the most of those opportunities.
“This summer I will be working with Visit Belfast Cruise greeting cruise arrivals, Excursions Ireland, delivering excursions to cruise guests, and at Clifton House delivering tours of both Clifton House and Clifton Street Graveyard, as well as developing my own unique tour experience and working with other local tour companies.”
Aidan Crean who has studied Tour Guiding right through from Level 2 to Level 4 at Belfast Met said, “At the end of the course, and you get your breath back, you come to appreciate that with all of life's challenges you probably would not have got over all of the many hurdles without an excellent team of witty, committed, honest & hard-working friends, colleagues & tutors that all helped each other along the way.
“I signed up for Level 2 & 3 then finally Level 4, so over the last four years I have lots of new colleagues in the sector, and work is emerging from all corners of Northern Ireland which is tremendous.”