- The Blue Badge is the qualification of the UK's professional, registered tourist guides.
- The first Blue Badges were awarded to tourist guides who were trained for the Festival of Britain in 1951.
- There are now around 2,000 Blue Badge guides in England and Wales, just over half of whom are London-based.
- Blue Badge guides work in over 40 languages in coaches, in cars, on foot, by bike and on site.
- Blue Badge guides are the only guides (other than in-house people) authorised to guide in the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, Spencer House, Oxford and Cambridge Colleges, Shakespeare Birthplace, York Minster, Palace of Holyrood House and Edinburgh Castle.
- Their training normally lasts eighteen months with eight rigorous written and practical examinations.
- The Blue Badge course has provided a model for guide training courses worldwide, in recognition of which, Katrine Prince, previous Director of Studies (Guide Training) London, was awarded the OBE in the 1999 Birthday Honours.
- To book a Blue Badge guide, contact the Regional Tourist Boards for a list of the guides registered in their areas or a booking agency.
- The Blue Badge course is offered by the Guild of Registered Tourist Guides. Details of the course can be found on their Web site. Look under Qualifications & Training - Guide Training - London.
- The professional associations of Blue Badge guides are The Association of Professional Tourist Guides (an autonomous branch of the trade union Amicus), The Guild of Registered Tourist Guides (incorporating the regional guiding associations) and The Scottish Tourist Guides Association.
- British Blue Badge guides play an important role in tourist guiding worldwide. The secretariats and training advisers to both the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations and the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations are currently in London.
- The Institute of Tourist Guiding was founded in April 2002 as the standard setting body, not only for Blue Badge tourist guides, but for the whole tourist guiding industry. We mention more about the Institute under Training.
The Albert Memorial
photo: Image Zone
We know what's going on
Blue Badge Guides receive regular news bulletins, keeping them up-to-date on everything from developments in museums to anniversaries, new restaurants, shops and markets, or coach parking facilities and road closures.
We are constantly undergoing further training, visiting new attractions and re-visiting familiar sites, to develop our knowledge.
An APTG representative attends regular Coach Liaison meetings, and informs APTG members of changes to coach parking arrangements at the sites we visit
The professional guarantee
The Blue Badge, awarded by the Institute of Tourist Guiding and the Regional Tourist Boards, guarantees that the holder has been officially trained, examined and registered and is able to communicate his/her extensive knowledge in an interesting and entertaining way.
To gain the coveted Blue Badge, guides take a part time course run over 18 months, starting in September.
Bond Street, London; photo: British Tourist Authority
We're versatile and flexible
Blue Badge Guides come from all walks of life. Many have specialist knowledge and interests, for example:
Blue Badge Guides are used to working with sophisticated and less sophisticated groups, all nationalities, all ages and the disabled.
- Albert Memorial
- The environment
- The British Museum
- The military
- The Tower of London
- Music of all kinds
- St Paul's Cathedral
- The National Gallery
- East London
- The Tate Gallery
- Westminster Abbey
- Stately homes and castles
Fees for Guiding Engagements