What’s the difference between a Tour Leader and a Tour Guide?

We often have travel agents from overseas asking to include a Tour Leader for tasks that require a Tour Guide. More often than not, there is a confusion between the two terms, quite understandably so, since these two roles sometimes overlap.

So, let’s clear any confusion and understand the differences between the two.

Tour Leader

A Tour Leader is the person assigned to be together with the group from the beginning to the end of the tour. He/she will be together with the group 24/7, giving general guidance and practical support throughout the tour.

This highly experienced, multilingual professional, will organise everything while on tour and will ensure a smooth operation; will arrange meeting points with the driver and any external activity provider; will coordinate dinners and smooth check-in at hotels.

A Tour Leader gives general commentary about the visited destinations, but is not required or expected to have specialized knowledge of history, art etc. or hold a degree in any such science.

Overall he/she is responsible for a successful tour operation.

Tour Guide

A Tour Guide is specialized in history, art and archaeology and is the only one eligible to conduct guided tours at archaeological sites and museums.

In certain places of Europe, an officially licensed guide is required to perform tour commentary even in outside places.

Tour Guides are University graduates often holding Masters or even PHDs and often are professional historians or archaeologists i.e. generally experts in their field.

They are officially licensed by the state to conduct tours.

Tour Operators employ Tour Guides to either provide their services at specific sites or even accompany the group throughout the tour acting as Tour leaders as well, when required.

 

It is obvious from the above that roles are distinct, but also overlap as well.

In general, a Tour Guide can act as a Tour Leader, but a Tour Leader cannot act as a Tour Guide.

 

  • Do you need someone to make sure the group is happy and everything runs smoothly?
    Both a Tour Leader and a Tour Guide can do that.
  • Do you need someone to provide more in depth information and perform tours at archaeological sites and museums?
    In this case you need a Tour Guide.
  • Do you need someone to be with the group 24/7 for the whole duration of the tour and at the same time be able to provide commentary at archaeological sites?
    Again, you need a Tour Guide.

 

Hopefully, this clears the confusion and now you know what kind of professional you need for your specific needs.