WFTGA Convention in Tbilisi, Georgia
Friday, February 8, 2019
Posted by: Corky Rainey
World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA)
18th Biennial Convention
January 20 - 25, 2019
The WFTGA, as the name implies is a world-wide association of tour guides, representing over 100 countries. On a biennial basis, the Association meets to discuss relevant topics of concern to the tour guides and the tour guiding profession. From January 20 - 25, 2019 the WFTGA met in Tbilisi, Georgia. The next convention will be hosted by Serbia in Novi Sad in early February, 2021.
Every convention consists of separate pre/post convention tours, 2 - 3 days in length and the convention itself, 5 - 6 days. There are two major elements to the convention, the General Assembly consisting of credentialed delegations from each member nation and a program of plenary sessions, workshops, and activities for all attendees.
Corky Rainey, 1st Vice President represented the DC Guild at the convention and attended all the plenary sessions and several of the workshops. The workshops offered were for professional tour guide education and training, such as how to promote oneself as a tour guide on a video presentation, how to guide with children, ‘Silk Road’ touring (international type) and voice training for guides. Workshops were well attended and worthwhile for all attendees.
Guild member Ellen Malasky, as President of the National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations-USA, led the US delegation. Gene Reyes from the New Orleans Guild and Michael Dillinger from the NYC Guild were also members of the official USA delegation.
There were over 300 total attendees from 34 countries at the convention. The US had the largest number of attendees, over 22 in all from DC, NYC, Baltimore, Buffalo, New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco.
Eleven Guild members attended the convention: Corky Rainey, Ellen Malasky, Deborah Androus, Joe Steinbock, Jim Carr, Maricar Donato, Lou Ann Filadelfo, Carol Yannarella, Luis Guzman, Louise Cullen, Ella Schiralli,
In addition to the workshops and demonstrations at the convention, officers of the Association described the professional training offered in different parts of the world, with a central training site in Cyprus.
The host country this year, Georgia, is a very small country, less than 4 million total population, but nevertheless were exceptionally gracious hosts for this convention and in the three day pre and post tours in eastern and western Georgia. Part of their culture is to revere visitors as ‘guests from God’ and this was certainly evident in the preparations and cultural showcases presented during the event.
WFTGA conferences offer the opportunity for our Guild tour guides to not only experience another culture/country, but also improve guiding skills and meet tour guides from around the world. One of the most memorable events for me was the final gala dinner, where before everyone departed for the evening all the attendees celebrated and sang ‘We are the World” which emphasized to me how close we all are as tour guides and human beings. A truly wonderful experience for all attendees, and highly recommended for the next conference in 2021 in Novi Sad, Serbia.
1st Vice President
February 7, 2019