Good English skills amongst tour guides will undoubtedly lead to an improved tourist offer for foreign tourists visiting key heritage sites in Damaraland, which in turn will provide economic benefits for Namibia.
In response to this need for English Language Training for tour guides, expressed by Reverend Solomon April, Director of the National Heritage Council, Marianne Young, British High Commissioner in Namibia agreed to fund an intensive English course for a group of Namibian tour guides.
As a gesture of commitment to the success and sustainability of the project, the Namibian National Heritage Council covered the venue, accommodation and transport costs for the participants. The course was held in Khorixas, the heart of Damaraland, from 1 to 5 July 2013, just before the start of the peak tourist season.
April said that oral communication skills, including presentation skills, were a particular challenge and that improved English language levels were needed for building the confidence and communication skills of tour guides at Brandberg, Petrified Forest and Twyfelfontein.
The British Council delivered an intensive, 30-hour, one-week English for Tourism course to 43 Namibian tour guides from the three key tourist sites in the Damaraland region.
Two experienced trainers from the UK and Ireland, Janet Akbar and Matthew Cannon, delivered a highly interactive training course addressing skills such as making small talk with tourists, planning routes and itineraries, giving directions, pronunciation, making arrangements over the telephone and delivering mini- presentations.
By the end of the course, the tour guides’ confidence and levels of English had improved noticeably. One of the tour guides remarked, “I would suggest that we get more trainings of this quality. Though it was short we gained a lot of information and our language usage increased. It was very worthy.”
On the last day of the course, a graduation ceremony was held with the families of the tour guides and a number of local dignitaries in attendance.
Her Royal Highness, Christophina Claassen, representing the #Ao-daman Traditional Authority, said how proud she was of the achievement of the 43 tour guides and went on to say that in their roles as tour guides they were ambassadors for Namibia. Reverend April expressed appreciation to the British High Commission and the British Council for making the training course a reality and he remarked, “You can’t imagine how much this has meant to the tour guides and their families because they have not had many opportunities to further their education.”
Caroline Grant, British Council English Language Adviser, representing the British High Commission, concluded by saying, “This training course represents a genuine partnership between the British High Commission in Namibia and the National Heritage Council of Namibia and shows how an initiative like this can make a difference to people’s lives.”