This post is also available in: Spanish
Tourist guides are an essential to tour companies, because they introduce the visitor to the culture, history, geography and customs of the country. One of the main problems this sector is experiencing is a lack of guides who can speak other languages besides English and Spanish. To address this issue, the travel agency, Gapa Travel, which specializes in the German, Swiss and Austrian market plans to train German speakers who reside in Panama as guides, free of cost.
Ronald Castillo, Gapa Travel Operations & Reservations Manager explained to The Visitor that although there are some very good German-speaking guides in the country, unfortunately travelers from Europe seem to come to Panama at exactly the same time and there are not enough guides to satisfy the demand.
The travel agency is spending $800 to $1,000 per each person selected to take the course. The main requirements are: to speak German fluently, comply with the Panama Tourism Authority requirements to become a tourist guide (those can be found on the ATP web page www.atp.gob.pa) and, most important of all, to have a good attitude.
Gapa does not guarantee a job at the end of the free course, as tour guides are freelancers, but it will help the candidates to obtain their tourist guide certificate and they can also work for other tour operators.
According to Castillo there are other agencies that are doing the same. They are training French, Italian and other foreign language speakers as tourist guides to be able cover the demand for tours and elevate the level of service.
He added that the ATP should work together with the private sector to train multilingual personnel who can serve foreign travelers, not only as guides, but also as waiters and hotel staff so that the country can compete with other destinations in the region which have addressed this problem.
This is the third year in a row that the program has taken place and so far 21 people have been trained. “At the moment, we are in the middle of the selection process and anybody who is a German-speaker can contact us to see if they can be chosen for an interview,” said Castillo.
For more information about becoming a tourist guide contact Ronald Castillo by whasapp 6675-9984 or call Gapa Travel Agency at 215-3902.