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Abstract

In the present neoliberal market economy, the so-called free tours and their unlicensed tourist guides found the perfect environment to practice their activity, which is often criticised by licensed guides. The overall difference between the two types of guides is related to the fact that licensed guides have a formal specific education and training to do their job, sometimes complemented with continuous professional development, whereas free tours’ guides don’t. Therefore, several questions come to mind: Since unqualified guides are actually working without any training, should there be any formal education for tourist guides? How useful is formal and continuous training for tourist guides? Are we training tourist guides properly? This paper tries to answer these questions using the Portuguese case. Besides the documental research and the reference works used for the theoretical approach, tour operators and higher institutions professors specialised in tourist guide training were questioned to develop the research. Then, a meeting with a focus group constituted of 10 licensed tourist guides was carried out. The results show what is being done at present to develop quality guiding, but they also light the path for future tourist guide education and training both from an initial and continuous perspective.

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