In a first for touring businesses for the region, Kingfisher Bay Resort Group's Tour Guides have been put through their paces across Fraser Island's sandy tracks, to ensure they remain at the forefront of tourism industry standards.
Kingfisher Bay Resort Group's Head Ranger and Tours Manager, Colin Anderson, said he had been drawn to the Cert IV program because it recognised that on-the-job training and experience was invaluable and also accredited guides for prior learning.
"The additional skills learned during the accreditation process will make our tour guides employable the world over," he said. "It's great for the guides, great for us as employers - because it identifies any skill shortfalls and gives us the opportunity to fill them - and most definitely great for our customers."
Dean Nulty of Industry Accreditation, the training company partnering with Kingfisher to deliver the training, said the Cert IV assessment and training program – which started rolling out in December – wasn't an easy ride for the guides.
Dean, himself an accredited Savannah Guide, threw curly questions, challenging on-the-job scenarios and oral assessment sessions at the guides to help identify core competencies and gaps in skills and knowledge.
"It's safe to say that these guides were well and truly put through their paces in a real, work-life situation on Fraser Island," he said.
"We surprised them with a range of scenarios whilst out on tour - for example we'd get ourselves lost just to see how they handled it or we'd pick up a stick and ask why we weren't allowed to poke wildlife – scenarios that can and do happen on the job."
In order to obtain their Cert IV accreditation, the guides were then evaluated over 18 core units including 'Working as a Guide', 'Leading Tour Groups', 'Culture and Heritage specific to Fraser Island' and 'Commentaries' – prior learning was recognised and additional assessment given where needed.
"We also tested general knowledge of Fraser Island and of policies, procedures and legislation, observed them out in the field and looked at their research methods... and if that wasn't enough we also incorporated some peer work sessions so the guides could learn from each other," he said.
Mr Nulty said the accreditation program was not just about imparting knowledge but about delivering the whole customer experience and providing impartial feedback.
"We made these guys jump through hoops," he laughs. "And as a testament to them, they handled it with flying colours."
Mr Anderson said the Kingfisher Bay Resort Group had taken full advantage of recent Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) funding – which financed 80% of the course. Kingfisher Bay funded the rest at no extra cost to the guides.
Fraser Explorer Tours, Kingfisher Bay Resort and Cool Dingo Tour programs are designed to provide enjoyable nature-based tourism experiences on Fraser Island, while creating minimal impact on the environment. Interpretive guides take guests to explore Fraser
Island's significant natural and geographical features and Aboriginal and European histories whilst the resort's own grounds provide the basis of ranger-guided nature and eco walks.
Guides are available for interview on request.
Industry Accreditation (Training and Accreditation for Tour Guides) Dean Nulty - Phone
0429 147 708 or Jacqui Conway – Phone 0437 122 565 www.industryaccreditation.org.au