New exam to test tourism staff’s local knowledge

How much do you know about Edinburgh as a tourist destination? Picture: Jane Barlow
How much do you know about Edinburgh as a tourist destination? Picture: Jane Barlow
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A FIENDISH exam aimed at ensuring tourism professionals know the city like the back of their hand has been launched online.

The exam has given Edinburgh its own version of “The Knowledge” – the famously difficult quiz taken by trainee London cabbies – with the new course developed by industry bosses and supported by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG).

Dubbed “Our Edinburgh” the initiative hopes to improve workers’ knowledge of the city and help them deal with the millions of visitors who flood its streets every year.

And with a raft of thorny questions relating to all aspects of the Capital’s history, geography and contemporary life, staff can be sure they’ll be put through their paces.

Tricky topics include the origins of The Mound and the century in which Leith was declared the official port of Edinburgh – as well as a question on which famous poet can boast his own statue in Leith.

The city’s many famous residents – both past and present – are also touched on, with questions relating to JK Rowling, Sean Connery and even Dolly the Sheep. But a multiple-choice set-up and some easy hitters – such as “What was Thistle Street named after?” – ensure befuddled staff are sure to score at least a few points.

The training exercise will be offered to anyone who deals with tourists, from taxi drivers to hotel receptionists, and will see those who successfully complete it handed a personalised certificate to mark their achievement.

Robin Worsnop, chair of ETAG, said: “The Our Edinburgh training module helps ensure that staff in businesses across the city – whether they are taxi drivers, hair dressers, bar tenders or receptionists – deliver a consistent, informed message to visitors, and help them get more out of their visit to Edinburgh.”

The launch of the new training quiz comes on the back of the third annual Edinburgh Tourism Showcase, which was held at the Assembly Rooms on Wednesday.

The glitzy event saw more than 80 exhibits and 500 guests from across the industry pack into the venue, with highlights including a 3D printer demonstration, a replica gin distillery and even a mini climbing wall.

The Showcase – which was set up in 2013 – aims to provide a one-stop-shop for the tourism sector to flaunt what’s on offer to Edinburgh’s visitors. This year’s trade show was also expanded to mark the 2015 Year of Food & Drink and celebrate Edinburgh’s increasing reputation as a “foodie” destination.

The Our Edinburgh quiz and training module can be accessed on desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile, and costs £6.50 per person to complete – with the entire exercise lasting for one to two hours.

The scheme was designed by FLOW, an award-winning training organisation that counts top names such as Howies Restaurant, Harvey Nichols, Motel One and Zizzi among its clients. It is hoped the initiative will mirror the success of the Glasgow Welcomes online training module, used to support staff and volunteers in the run-up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Malcolm Duck, chairman of the Edinburgh Restaurant Association, insisted the new drive was a “good idea” and would help top-up the local knowledge of those working in frontline tourism positions.

He said: “The more knowledge people have, the more they can help the tourists. I think more training is always a good thing.”

Those who successfully complete the quiz will be encouraged to register with the Our Edinburgh Facebook page and attend future Edinburgh Tourism Showcase events to ensure they keep apace with the latest updates from the industry.