US Connections project unveils tour guide conference

The US Connections scheme will hold the first National Tour Guiding Conference in London, as part of its strategy to woo more American visitors.

The event will take place on November 9 in Drapers Hall, an historic venue in the City of London.

It aims to support the development of the tour-guiding sector across England, by sharing research and enabling tour guides to network.

The US Connections project is funded by the Discover England Fund (DEF), which is distributing £40 million over three years to English tourism projects.

Amanda Lumley, executive director for Destination Plymouth and DEF US Connections project director, said: “Research demonstrates that there is a significant demand from US visitors to have a guided tour while in the UK, allowing them to meet local people and bring stories to life through immersing themselves in the heritage and history of England.

“Our first national conference will bring together tour guides, businesses and individuals working in the tour guiding sector to share innovation, knowledge and best practice, supporting them to evolve guiding products that will specifically appeal to this target market.”

Tour guides will also be able to find out about making their tours ‘bookable’ and accessible to international audiences.

Delegates can network with a wide range of guides, from Blue, Green and White Badge guides, to ancestral guides, driver guides, volunteers and local greeter schemes, costumed and character-led guides.

Speakers will be from organisations including Wanderlust, Unique Devon Tours, Kuoni Global Travel Services, XV Insights, Robin Hood @EzekialBone, Visit Cambridge and Beyond and VisitBritain.

There will be seminars on audience engagement, digital marketing, market insights, ‘bookable’ products and working with the travel trade.

Emma Thornton, chief executive of Visit Cambridge and Beyond – the lead partner supporting the delivery of this event – said: “Visit Cambridge delivers guided walking tours for around 80,000 visitors each year and tours form a very significant part of our business.

“A key priority for us is to continue to develop and innovate with our tour product and this conference, which is the first of its kind, offers an exciting opportunity to bring the national guiding community together to explore opportunities in this area.”

Led by Destination Plymouth, US Connections is a collaboration between 13 destinations to develop tourism products in the lead-up to 2020, a year which marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s historic voyage from Plymouth to the New World.

For details of the conference, click here.