Blue Badge tourist guide
Blue Badge Tourist Guides are the official, professional tourist guides of the United Kingdom. They wear a Blue Badge to indicate their professionalism. They are recognised by local tourist bodies throughout the UK, and by Visit Britain  as Britain’s official tourist guides. There are over 2000 Blue Badge guides in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, who guide at Britain's tourist attractions and cities. Some guides run guided walking tours on themes such as Jack the Ripper, Harry Potter and The Beatles. They are responsible for the regular 2012 Summer Olympics walking tours and are the guides for the summertime public tours inside the Houses of Parliament.
History of the Blue Badge
The Blue Badge was founded in 1950 by seven guides who met at the George Inn in Southwark.
In 1980, eighty guides formed a union for London Blue Badge guides. The APTG - Association of Professional Tourist Guides - has 470 members.
In 1996, the Scottish Tourist Guides Association was formed as membership association for professional tourist guides, and the accrediting body for Blue Badge and Green Badge Guides in Scotland.
In 2005 Blue Badge guides in England and Wales started offering cycle tours for groups and individuals
When working guides wear the Blue Badge, it bears a symbol identifying the part of the country they are qualified for:
- London Blue Badge Guides: Tower Bridge
- The Scottish Blue Badge Guides: Thistle & St Andrews Cross
- The Heart of England Blue Badge Guides (and other English regions): The English Rose
- The Welsh Blue Badge Guides: Welsh Dragon
- The Northern Ireland Blue Badge Guides: Shamrock
In 2011 there were more than 2000 guides in the UK and around 500 in London. Over 500 of these are in Scotland.
The Blue Badge Qualification
The Institute of Tourist Guiding sets a standard, examines and accredits guides in England. In Scotland, the Scottish Tourist Guides Association (STGA) sets the standards and accredits all the training courses. All Blue Badge guides must pass the Institute's exams or the STGA's exams. They study for up to two years at university level, taking a comprehensive series of written and practical exams which qualify them to become Blue Badge Tourist Guides.
The institute also sets standard for guides to work in foreign languages. There are Blue Badge guides working in most major languages, including French, Italian, Greek, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Polish and Spanish.
Green Badge Guides
As well as the Blue Badge, the Institute of Tourist Guiding oversees further levels of qualification for tourist guides. In Scotland Blue Badge Tourist Guides are national guides, while Green Badge ones are regional. In England, a Green Badge Guide is qualified to work in a specified area such as a city - for example the City of London Guides.
Ed Glinert, the author of The London Compendium and The Manchester Compendium, is a Green Badge guide to the city of Manchester.
The Guild of Registered Tourist Guides
The Guild of Registered Tourist Guides was founded in London 1950. Originally known as The Guild of Guide Lecturers, the first London guides were trained by the British Travel and Holidays Association to show visitors a capital recovering from the ravages of war; in particular for tourists coming to London in 1951 to visit The Festival of Britain.
The Guild is the national membership organisation for trained professional guides in the UK. It has 1,755 guide members throughout the UK and 523 in London. There are 33 languages currently spoken by guide members. All members of the organisation must be fully trained and insured.
Scottish Tourist Guides Association
Scottish Tourist Guides Association was created as a Company limited by Guarantee (Company No. SC167477) in 1996 and has a Board of Voluntary Directors, and four professional staff. In addition to the training and accreditation activities, the STGA ensures that all of their guides are fully insured with public liability insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance. They also have a booking service to help clients find a guide to suit their requirements.
Blue Badge Tourist Guides in Media.
Blue Badge Guides frequently appear in the media, on television, radio and in newspapers. Many guides are also authors and journalists.
Blue Badge guides on BBC Radio and TV:
- Scottish Blue Badge Guide, Barbara Millar talks about Dundee, the McManus Gallery and other 'lady journalists'.
- Blue badge guide Josephine King talks about the setting of du Maurier's most famous novel, 'Rebecca', with the novelist Celia Brayfield and Fiona Clampin
- Guide Vicky Wood talks about Tyburn on Law in Action (BBC Radio 4)
- Jonathan Schofield, Blue Badge guide and editor of Manchester Confidential talks to BBC Manchester about the Peterloo Massacre
- Ian Jelf talks to the BBC about his special walk to offer a glimpse of medieval Shrewsbury.
Blue Badge Guides in national newspapers:
- Simon Rodway talks about film tours to the Daily Telegraph
- The Telegraph talks to Allan Brigham, who went from Cambridge street sweeper to one of the city’s most popular tour guides.