‘you become an ambassador for yourself and your country’
Jeremia Mwapopi has been in the tourism industry for years and has enjoyed every bit of it. He has been on many tours throughout the country and knows most places like the palm of his hand. He considered the profession because of his love of working with people and making new friends. He told Namibian Sun what his work entails.
What are the duties of a professional tour guide?
A tour guide is basically responsible for transporting visitors or clients on guided tours. These tours are mainly conducted around the country to and at various interesting and prominent historical sites. We are also mainly responsible for explaining to visitors or tourists the meaning of the various locations we visit, what we find there and all the animals and the plants and many others that might be of interest.
Briefly describe your normal day at work
First thing is to check emails and see what needs to be done for the day. In case we need to go out, we look at the conditions of the vehicles that need to be used for the specific trip. We also get into touch with the consultants who give us information on how many visitors we need to transport to respective destinations. We also get the specific touring routes from them.
Where does one study for this type of job?
The Namibia Academy of Tourism and Hospitality (NATH) offers a course on tour guiding and it is a life-long process as you can study and learn the trade according to several specialised fields.
At NATH you are required to take 17 compulsory subjects and upon passing them and completing the course, you can become a tour guide. Sometimes people also become tour guides through self-interest and learn these things from the ones that are already in the trade.
What personality skills do you need as a tour guide?
The two most important personality skills are a good attitude and you must be knowledgeable. The rest comes with the trade.
What are the major challenges in your job?
The biggest challenge is obviously the driving part. You must get used to long driving distances and must be able to cope in any type of weather. There are rough terrains, muddy roads and bad gravel roads. So, you must take the challenge. Another is possibly some difficult customers who complain, but if you are doing a good job, you will not get much of that.
What tools or equipment do you use in your job?
Obviously the car is the most important as you can’t do your job without it. On the car you will need a jack, wheel spanner, a spade and stumps in case you get stuck in the sand. Also very important is the first aid kit which should be standard, just as the other equipment. A fire-extinguisher is also vital, while a map gets you around.
Is your job rewarding?
In monetary terms it depends for which company you work for. Each of them take care of their employees, obviously according to certain criteria, but in general, the job is rewarding in terms of self development. One meets a lot of people from various backgrounds. The fact that you visit so many places also makes it rewarding because you learn new things each time.
Would you recommend this job to anyone?
I will surely recommend it to anyone. The fact is not all of us can become tour guides, but with a high level of commitment and hard work hard, you can get far in this profession. It creates a level were you become an ambassador for yourself and your country and that is the ultimate.