Drive to boost tourism skills

Santino Wilson-Ford (left) of Blueline Taxis with Graham Cavener of Union Taxis at Northumberland College. Picture by Trevor Walker.

Santino Wilson-Ford (left) of Blueline Taxis with Graham Cavener of Union Taxis at Northumberland College. Picture by Trevor Walker.

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Taxi drivers are stepping up a gear to help deliver a better tourism experience in Northumberland.

Drivers from Blyth-based Union Taxis and North Tyneside’s Blueline group are embarking on a bespoke chauffeur guide course at Northumberland College.

The 12-week course will see them study part-time, learning about the area’s visitor attractions, and will culminate in an NCFE Level 2 in Travel and Tourism.

The drivers will also become ‘ambassadors’ for the county.

Northumberland College head of rural tourism academy Sheena Towns said: “I approached Blueline with a concept for a totally bespoke course that I believed would enhance both its business and the visitor experience in the region after visiting Sri Lanka and seeing how chauffeur guides work so well in its travel and tourism sector.

“Drivers will develop their knowledge of Northumberland’s visitor attractions and receive eight booklets that summarise each of the county’s districts.”

Blueline has previously worked with the college to train more than 120 new drivers in customer service.

Operations manager Santino Wilson-Ford said: “This latest training is further testament to our commitment to add further professionalism to our business.”

Union Taxis is currently recruiting new drivers.

Figures suggest there will be an 18 per cent increase in tourism jobs in Northumberland over the next five years, with 7.6m day visitors.