By Brototi Roy:
As I was researching for an article about alternative career, I realized it’s wrong to say that there are only engineers and doctors in our country. The correct statement would be that in our country, doctors and engineers are the two professions that have been given unnecessary and incessant promotion for the past many decades, as a result of which the more diverse careers have been swept under the rugs.
However, with the recent rage about learning foreign languages, a lot of wonderful opportunities have opened up.
One such exciting career option is that of a tour guide for foreigners, as I learnt after my interview with Mrs. Anuradha Pradhan, who had been a tour guide in and around Mumbai for 10 long years for both French and Japanese tourists, and had met various eminent personalities from all walks of life, be it Shoichiro Toyoda, the former chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation or our very own Shah Rukh Khan.
For whom is the job suited for?
If the thought of being holed in the same office room, day in and day out gives you a shudder, if you enjoy travelling and meeting new people, if you love to learn new things every single day, this is the job for you.
Qualifications and Job requirements-
At the outset, one needs to have proficiency in two or more languages, with an extensive vocabulary in both the languages, and the ability to express oneself concisely.
It is also very necessary to be in aware of the cultural heritage of the language, since one is required to stay with the foreigners for a considerable stretch of time, and with the lack of awareness, one can easily end up offending the tourists.
A valid tour guide license is essential, which can be easily acquired after completing a short term course from the Indian Institute of Travel and Tourism Management (IITTM) after graduating. The license is issued at the central as well as state level by the respective Tourism Department.
Needless to say, soft skills are a must. One must be friendly, outgoing and ready to help the tourists understand the country/place better.
Both public and private sectors hire tour guides for foreigners. Beside travel agencies and tour operators, one can also be recruited at airlines or big hotel chains. Not just that, if one has a flair for writing, one can easily work as travel journalists and travel writers during the spare time in the off seasons (rainy season is the off season in India). Self employment is also a viable option, where one has full freedom to choose desired assignments.
You will be extremely well treated since the tourists will be literally handicapped without you. You can meet a variety of new and interesting people, with a fair share of celebrities as well. There would be continuous travelling assignments, so your wander thirst would more or less be quenched. More than the money however, is the experience and the wonderful memories you make. Anuradha claims her job was a “fairy tale” job. Every ‘working’ day brought its own share of magical moments for her. Be it being given a free hair styling session by a top fashion designer from Japan or an all expenses paid trip to a Japanese luxury cruise, not one day was dull or monotonous in her 10 years of work experience. Along with enriching your life, you also exude self confidence and grow as a person.
Word of advice
It is extremely important to choose your language carefully. In the present day scenario, languages like Spanish, Chinese and the East European languages are more in demand.
“All in all”, said Anuradha as we got up after finishing our pieces of chocolate cakes, “it might be a lot of hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun, with money, glamour and travelling, and making new friends and enjoying, instead of paper work.”