New technologies cannot replace tour guiding, say tour guides

New technologies cannot replace tour guiding, say tour guides

New technologies cannot replace tour guiding, say tour guides

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 this will not make their profession obsolete.

In the age of digitalization, people are using high-tech products to plan their tours or use translation applications. But tour guides think the services they provide are far better than those offered by those applications as the latter lacks “human interaction.”

“This is a centuries-old profession, dating as far as back to seventh century B.C., and it is unlikely that tour guiding will disappear any time soon,” said Berkay Akarsu, a tour guide.

Though Akarsu admitted that applications could be handy for travelers, he insisted that they could not be a substitute for tour guides.

“Tour guiding is not only about providing information on a location, let’s say a museum or the history of a site, it is also about human interaction, communication between people. You can learn something from books or apps, but you still need someone in flesh and blood to tell you all this.”

Giving an example of online meeting events, which became common during the pandemic, Akarsu argued that it did not really work as people wanted to come together in person and that the same goes for tour guiding.

He questioned how fast travel books or applications could update the information they provide. “Things change quickly, and we, as tour guides, can adapt swiftly to those changes. If you rely on an application, it can be difficult for you to keep up with the developments.”

Akarsu added that tour guides are also trained in history, archaeology, art history as well as communication and psychology.

He reckoned that peoples’ access to information is much easier today than before, and thus tour guides need to have accurate information. “We have lots of guests now who know what they really want. We have to provide those people who choose to travel with tour guides with more updated and accurate information.”

Over the past years, more tourists are coming from the Arab countries and Eastern Asia to Turkey for overnight stays or package tours for seven to eight days, said Metin Yılmaz, another tour guide.

Unlicensed tour guides are posing a threat to the profession, he complained.

Syrians, Afghans, or Pakistanis, who are in Turkey as migrants, are working as tour guides without proper permission, Yılmaz explained.

In other countries, tour guiding is a side job, or people do it as a hobby, whereas in Turkey, it is the only job of thousands of people, Yılmaz also said, highlighting that in Istanbul alone there are around 3,000 tour guides.

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