Tourism sector welcomes a City & Guilds qualification

Thousands of staff in the tourism industry are set to gain their first ever formal qualification now the Welcome Host customer service training course leads to a nationally-recognised City & Guilds award.

An initial scheme in South East England, run by Tourism South East Training and Skills, will see trainees from the tourism, hospitality, passenger transport and related sectors take a multiple choice question examination following the one-day course. It forms a key part of the drive to improve customer service standards in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Welcome to Excellence Welcome Host training scheme has now been accredited on the national framework of qualifications as the City & Guilds Level 2 Award in Welcome Host (Customer Service) (QCF). It is established as one of the leading customer service training courses in the UK, designed for staff in tourism, hospitality, leisure, transport and travel businesses, ranging from B&Bs to international brands, in the past seven years alone.

It forms part of the Welcome to Excellence suite of courses, taken by more than 300,000 staff since 1993, from organisations including Bourne Leisure (Warners, Haven and Butlins), Compass Group, De Vere, English Heritage, One Railway, Imperial War Museum North, Chichester Festival Theatre and many local authorities.

The 2008-09 pilot programme will involve at least 200 course participants, who must successfully complete a 30-question multiple choice examination to gain the qualification. It is then hoped the qualification will become available nationally and will be offered as a standalone award and also as a component of wider industry qualifications.

Tourism South East Training and Skills' Sue Gill said: “The City & Guilds Award means many people in the industry who had no previous skills-specific qualifications can be formally rewarded. Gaining a nationally-recognised qualification can boost their career, and give employers a clear indication that their staff have a good understanding of what makes good customer care and how to deliver it.

"The tourism industry is set to be one of the main beneficiaries of 2012 - if we can give visitors a memorable experience and encourage them to return and recommend Britain to others. Improving customer service standards has been identified as a key driver for the industry and this is a major development."

Vicki Ball, Director of Workforce Development at Go Skills, added: "the first people that visitors to the UK meet are often individuals working in the passenger transport industries. Ensuring that key staff have the understanding and skills to welcome and inform visitors in critical. The Welcome Host course is used throughout the passenger transport sector and we welcome the new qualification as it will enable individuals to receive recognition for their skills and contribution to the visitor experience."

City & Guilds’ senior product development manager, Matt Lardi said: "More than two million people work in tourism and related industries, which contribute more than £85 billion to the country annually. The vast majority work in frontline, customer-facing roles where the welcome and service they provide directly influences customer experience, spend and retention.

"However, there is a real gap in formally recognising customer service skills amongst employees in tourism, hospitality, leisure, travel and transport businesses. That is why we have worked closely with Tourism South East Training and Skills to develop a qualification which reflects the knowledge and skills acquired through the market-leading Welcome Host customer service training, and provides an accredited benchmark of customer service knowledge through this new level two qualification."

The City & Guilds Level 2 Award in Welcome Host covers core knowledge required to communicate with customers, identify their needs, recognise trends and changing expectations and deal with difficult situations. Successful candidates will be able to understand the characteristics and importance of the transport, travel and tourism industry; describe the importance of customer service to business success; understand how to communicate effectively with customers; and effectively meet a customer’s needs in a range of situations.

Welcome Host training is available from Tourism South East Training and Skills through a series of scheduled courses held at venues across the South East, and through in-house training, which can be tailored to businesses’ specific operational situations and demands. Further information from Tourism South East Training and Skills on tel: 023 8062 5533 or visit

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