The Blue Badge

The Blue Badge is Britain’s national qualification for professionally registered tourist guides. Quality tour operators and travel companies recognise it throughout the world as a benchmark of excellence. Many other countries have adopted its methods as a model for their guide training.

I am a member of the British Guild of Tourist Guides, the professional body that covers guides operating in regions throughout Britain and Northern Ireland. Through them, I hold the correct personal liability insurance that is essential if you move groups around.
Blue Badge tourist guides for London, my region, are authorised to guide in sites such as the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle and can sometimes fast-track you into places.

The in-depth training typically lasts eighteen months with several very rigorous written and practical examinations covering gallery guiding and sites on foot and by coach to ensure accurate knowledge and the selection and presentation of information in an entertaining way.

And the learning doesn’t stop with the awarding of the Badge. Many of us go on to gain other specialist qualifications so we can guide specific sites. After qualifying, I was proud to have passed special exams to guide in the Houses of Parliament and at the 2012 Olympic Games venues.

We all aim to keep ourselves up to date by attending Continuing Professional Development courses (known as CPDs) to understand better the various aspects of the areas in which we work. The pandemic didn’t stop these; they went online and became known in the trade as Lockdown Learning.

That included completing a Virtual Tours training course developed by fellow guides to handle the technology to bring the streets and sights of London and beyond to you while we were all shut away in our homes.

We’re back out and about now. But Virtual Tours, one of the great things to come out of the pandemic, are here to stay. They’re an excellent method of bringing travel tasters to you – and so inclusive for those who can’t or don’t want to take trips anymore.