In today’s modern world, where almost everything is going digital, from planning tours to shopping online, tour guides in Turkey who welcome millions of tourists every year believe that this will not make their profession obsolete.
In the age of digitization, people use high-tech products to plan their tours or use translation apps. But tour guides believe that the services they provide are much better than those offered by these apps because the latter lack “human interaction”.
“This is an age-old profession, dating back to the 7th century BC, and tour guides are unlikely to disappear anytime soon,” said Berkay Akarsu, a tour guide.
Although Akarsu admitted that apps could be convenient for travelers, he insisted that they could not replace tourist guides.
“Tourist support is not only giving information about a place, let’s say a museum or the history of a site, it is also a question of human interaction, of communication between people. You can learn something from books or apps, but you still need someone in the flesh to tell you all about it.
Giving an example of online meeting events, which have become common during the pandemic, Akarsu argued that it didn’t really work because people wanted to meet in person and the same goes for guided tours.
He wondered how quickly books or travel apps could update the information they provided. “Things change quickly and we as tour guides can adapt quickly to these changes. If you rely on an app, it can be difficult for you to keep up with developments.
Akarsu added that tour guides are also trained in history, archaeology, art history as well as communication and psychology.
He felt that people’s access to information is much easier today than before, so tour guides need to have accurate information. “We now have a lot of guests who know what they really want. We need to provide people who choose to travel with tour guides with more up-to-date and accurate information.
In recent years, more and more tourists have come from Arab and East Asian countries to Turkey for overnight stays or seven-to-eight-day package tours, Metin Yılmaz said, another tour guide.
Unlicensed tour guides pose a threat to the profession, he complained.
Syrians, Afghans or Pakistanis, who are in Turkey as migrants, work as tourist guides without proper authorization, Yılmaz explained.
In other countries, tourist guiding is a secondary job, or people do it as a hobby, while in Turkey it is the sole job of thousands of people, Yılmaz also said, pointing out that at Istanbul alone, there are around 3,000 tourist guides.