In early April the Destination Development Division of the Ministry of Tourism conducted its first ever Tour Guide training at ‘Ohonua, ‘Eua. Conducted by Mr. Lopeti Filo of Tonga Skills, the training was attended by a total of twenty (20) individuals from local tour operators, domestic airlines, and high schools. Speaking at the awards ceremony for the training on Friday 16th April, Mr. Filo noted the important role of tour guides in providing up to date and accurate information.
“The information a tour guide provides should not be limited to tourist sites only, but rather also to learn the current events happening in Tonga. For most tourists visiting Tonga, they would have already conducted their own research, so tour guides must provide them with relevant and accurate information”, he said.
Additionally, over the past two years, the Industry Empowerment Division of the Ministry has also conducted fully funded Whale Watching Guide/Skipper training throughout the outer Island groups. The training has been conducted over an extended period so as to establish an affordable fee structure for participants. It is aimed at helping businesses minimize income leakage from hiring overseas based employees and reducing associated risks from having unqualified staff.
The training course materials have been provided through a sponsorship arrangement with the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) and focus on five components – whale watching regulation, Marine Biology, Tourism management, First aid at sea and Swimming.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s training was cancelled with efforts redirected to further developing training material for next year. The Whale Watching Guide/Skipper Training is conducted in the earlier half of the year, before the whale watching season begins in July.