By Daniel Neilson
The adventure tour operator Wilderness Scotland are launching a new Wilderness Guide Training Programme (WGTP), the first of its kind in the UK. The programme will be run in partnership with Wild Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife and Adventure Tourism Association – a not-for-profit organisation. The core benefit of the programme is ultimately that customers have a much more immersive experience as guides are better equipped to interpret the stunning landscapes and diverse cultures they work in. Growing numbers of consumers want to experience wilderness regions and this programme will offer professional outdoor guides best practice training on increasingly important issues. These issues include sustainable tourism, leave no trace awareness and nature conservation, as well as Scottish geology and astronomy. In this, its first year, the fee for the course will be heavily subsidised at £450, offering great value for money.
Complementing existing technical skills development and coaching qualifications, the WGTP will offer structured and coherent training for professional outdoor guides in the softer skills needed to become a more rounded guide and ensure that customers have a truly memorable experience. Run on an attendance basis, this unique 12-day modular course, spread over three residential blocks, will aim to provide both knowledge and practical skills. There is flexibility for guides to do the courses in any order, and to spread the blocks across two seasons, beginning in April, May or December this year. On completion of the course, guides will receive a WGTP certificate.
The programme is designed and led by Myles Farnbank, Director of Training at Wilderness Scotland, who has over 20 years’ experience of Scotland’s outdoors. Having recently been commended in The Wanderlust World Guide Awards 2012, Myles is highly qualified in a variety of activities including wilderness walking, sea kayaking and open canoeing. Commenting on the new programme, Myles said: “We are excited to be running the WGTP in association with Wild Scotland as there is nothing else like this currently available in the UK. We felt it important to place emphasis on sustainable tourism, ecology and the environment and this course is a departure from the hard skills which other courses focus upon. Feedback from a pilot scheme run last year has been very positive and we look forward to welcoming more guides this year.”
Piloted in 2011, the WGTP has already been short-listed in the Community and Conservation category of the Guardian Green Travel List 2011, and also received highly commended in the ‘Most Innovative Sustainable Tourism Initiative 2011′ category of the Association of International Tour Operators (AITO) Sustainable Tourism Awards 2011.