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  1. Spotlight on Industry Partner: Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum

    This weeks Spotlight on Industry Partner is Jason Sullivan from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum! 
    New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex is an educational and cultural non-profit institution centered on the aircraft carrier Intrepid. The mission of the Museum is to promote the awareness and understanding of history, science and service through its collections, exhibitions and programming in order to honor our heroes, educate the public and inspire our youth. Join us for a dynamic, interactive and educational journey for all ages.
    What year did your business open?
    Has your company or organization or any members of the organization received any awards (recently or in the past)?
    3 time winner of the Concierge Choice Awards 
    Can you tell us a little about your ideal customer?
    Our museum is open Fun and Educational for all ages!
    What special deals do you provide for GANYC guides?
    We would like to have all GANYC members equipped with our STARboard Pass referral cards so their guests can receive priority access and $4 off per ticket. 
    For more info visit their website for museum hours:
  2. DESTINATION NEW YORK Episode #10 Justin Ferate, Part II

    Justin Ferate

    Listen to part two of our interview with Justin Ferate.  Hear Mr. Ferate discuss the state of international visitors to New York City, the future of tour guiding in New York City and which New Yorkers, past and present he would dine with.  All very compelling commentary.  


  3. DESTINATION NEW YORK Episode #9 Justin Ferate

    Join Destination New York host and GANYC member Aaron Tabackman as he interviews several of last year's recipients of GANYC Apple Awards leading up to the next GANYC Apple Awards show on March 7th at Symphony Space.  First up is a two-part interview with the inaugural Apple Award winner of Outstanding Achievement in Support of NYC Tourism, Justin Ferate.   Mr. Ferate has been a guest speaker at GANYC Professional Workshops and has led GANYC FAM Tours.  Also the former Governor of New York State, George Pataki, and the New York State Tourism Council recognized Mr. Ferate as New York's "Most Engaging Tour Guide."  Listen to this compelling interview to hear why.  


  4. Hosting our guest from the WFTGA, Maricar Donato

    It was my pleasure today to spend time with Maricar Donato, Trainer extraordinaire from the World Federation of Tour Guides Association (WFTGA).  Maricar was visiting New York and staying at the Row Hotel in Times Square, where she met with a group of members of GANYC on Thursday.  This morning I was able to spend some additional time with Maricar.  We met at the Arch in Washington Square Park, and continued on to visit the Grey Art Gallery at NYU.  Maricar and I were excited to explore the current exhibition at Grey Gallery entitled "Global/Local 1960-2015: Six Artists from Iran."  The exhibit features works by three generations of Iranian artists born between 1937 and 1982.  Some ten works by each artist examine their individual artistic practices through shared aspects of their Persian heritage.   One of the reasons for Maricar's New York visit was to see this exhibit, as she prepares for the next WFTGA Convention to be held in Iran in 2017.  Our next stop was the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The Met is my home away from home, being on staff as a volunteer for the past 9 years in the Marketing and External Affairs Division.  Again, Iranian Art was the subject of our visit.  Maricar had the wonderful oportunity to experience first hand, the Met's rich collection of the Arts and Crafts from Iran - as we strolled through the Islamic Art Gallery.  I wish we had more time to spend together but Maricar had a 5:00 Amtrack to catch back to Washington, D.C.  GANYC hopes that she will return soon. It was a pleasure to have her here!

    Bob Gelber, Corresponding Secretary, GANYC Board




  5. DESTINATION NEW YORK Episode #8 Michael Dillinger, NFTGA Conference

    Live from the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C., GANYC joins the National Federation of Tourist Guides Association bi-annual conference.    Host and GANYC Member Aaron Tabackman interviews the new president of the Guides Association of New York City, Michael Dillinger, along with the new president of the National Federation of Tourist Guides Association, Gene Reyes of New Orleans, and the lead organizer of the conference, DC Guild of Tourist Guides representative, Ellen Malasky.  


  6. NFTGA Conference Roundup

    The GANYC Crew in Washington DC!

    GANYC was well represented at the 2016 NFTGA-USA Conference, as 22 members made their way to Washington, DC, from January 20-22. We joined about 75 colleagues from 10 other Guides Associations from around the United States for three days of discussions, meetings and networking. 


    The main word on everyone’s lips during the conference was certification. On Day 1, the afternoon session kicked off with a discussion of professional development and certification. The consensus among the panel – which included guides from the San Francisco, Philadelphia and San Antonio associations, as well as legal analyst Richard Hermann – held that it was better for associations to self-certify to avoid over-regulation from local governments, and to stifle legal challenges to government licensing by groups such as the Institute for Justice, which successfully sued to have the Washington DC licensing exam thrown out.


    The Association of Philadelphia Tourguides (APT) was formed in 2008 in response to legislation drafted by the City Council to license tour guides, according to APT member Bob Skiba. Two years later, the APT started its certification program, with the first 20 guides becoming certified in 2011. Just five years later, 200 guides in Philadelphia have been certified by the APT, which is now initiating a Master Certification program. In the interim, while the law for licensing tour guides has been stalled by a series of legal challenges and political wrangling, the APT received a certificate of merit for their work from the City Council.


    While the APT started its program in response to government action, certification holds great promise for overcoming legal challenges to licensing, Hermann explained. The Institute of Justice has sued several cities – Washington, Savannah, New Orleans and, in the days after the conference, Charleston -- to have licensing exams overturned because it claims that licensing tour guides violates the First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of Speech. But this guarantee only applies to government organizations, he said, not to private organizations, so there could be no legal challenge to Guides Associations self-certifying on the basis of the First Amendment.


    Herman urged the NFTGA to develop a national set of standards, codes of ethics and training programs, all of which would obviously be broad-based and not content-specific. These processes could then trickle down to the local associations for content- and site-specific training and certification, along with standard practices such as how a guide should dress, overall comportment and demeanor, to name a few. Keeping these certifications voluntary would help avoid legal challenges as well, as has been proven in professional associations in other industries, pointing specifically to the International Association of Privacy Professionals.


    “You're trying to distinguish yourself and ‘professionalize’ yourself, you are trying to set the standards,” he said. “The time to act is now. Try to get something going, coordinate it nationally, and you can set standards before they are set by government agencies.”


    He cautioned against the local associations becoming like medieval guilds whose missions are to protect guides from competition; rather the goal of all this training and certification is to protect the public from those who would take advantage of them. One way to ensure this is to give every certified member “something big that can be displayed on your person, like a big fat pin” that shows that guide is certified by the local association, inviting questions from the public about the certification process.


    Gilbert Noriega detailed the certification process of Professional Tour Guides Association of San Antonio (PTGASA), which is offered every two years. Members pay for the class, which includes a 167-page training manual covering topics such as local history, mastering the craft, sites and attractions, transportation and safety. After six months of training, which includes FAM tours, classes on how to find work and conduct tours, and shadowing opportunities for new guides, members must pass a 250-question test (80% is passing) and make a five-minute oral presentation in front of certified guides. In the most recent class, 30 guides enrolled, and 18 attained their certification.



    Representatives from Destination DC and the United States Travel Association shared their outlooks for the inbound tourism industry.


    Cities in the northeast are seeing record tourism numbers, explained Theresa Belpulsi, vice president of tourism and visitor services for Destination DC.


    “Because tourism is doing so well, the destination management organizations (DMOs) know how important local tour guides are,” she stated. “The quality of the product delivered on tours is the most important thing – we tell people all around the world how important that is.”


    She focused on international visitors, whom she said were more likely to hire guides because they need better connections to local services than domestic travellers because of language barriers. DC has seen a 93% increase in visitors from China, and the number of FITs (free independent travellers) from China has been growing exponentially. The need for multilingual guides is exploding, so at the very least, guides should partner with translators to serve this exploding market.


    For at least the third year in a row, New York was the top U.S. market for overseas travellers (which does not include Canada and Mexico), with 9.74 million people in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. This was nearly double the number of the next nearest city, Miami, which had 4.85 million overseas visitors in 2014. GANYC guides can see the full statistics in the Member Documents section on the GANYC web site.


    She also discussed the importance of informing local government and residents of how much money is brought into cities by visitors. In DC, if tourism did not exist, each household would need to generate an additional $2,468 in local taxes to make up for the gap. Travel and tourism supports 74,570 jobs and brought in $6.8 billion in revenue in 2014; keep in mind that DC gets about one-third the number of visitors as New York (20 million vs. 60 million, approximately).


    Jamie Faulkner, director of research products for the US Travel Association, was more interested in American tourists. The USTA is concerned that Americans do not use all of their vacation time – 429 million vacation days go unused each year -- so the Association has lost a campaign to “Win Back America’s Lost Week,” which can be followed at its Web site


    The USTA is working to change the perception of taking time off, so that it is seen as essential, not frivolous for businesses and families. Since 2000, vacation time taken has plummeted from about 23 days a year to about 16 days a year, making us a nation of “work martyrs.” The USTA estimates that the US loses $160 billion in economic output each year due to burned out workers not taking vacation. She urged guides to spread the word using the twitter handle @projecttimeoff and to make the message personal to help drive business and get Americans to take their time off.


    The time is ripe for this, as consumer confidence is almost back to pre-Great Recession levels, gas prices are lower, unemployment is near 5% -- in short, Americans are more optimistic and willing to do some more discretionary spending. Leisure traveling is growing while business travel is slowing, with the majority of leisure travel focused on visiting friends and family (42%). General vacation is responsible for 18% on all leisure travel money spent. Urban sightseeing makes up 9% of leisure travel activities, making it the 7th highest leisure time activity.


    Baby boomers are still doing the most traveling (37%), with Gen X at 27% and millennials at 26% but millennials are gaining quickly. One interesting note about the baby boomers is that they are taking the grandchildren on vacation (the Gen Xers and millennials being the “work martyrs”). Millennials represent the largest percentage of travellers among Hispanics, who are the fastest growing ethnic demographic of leisure travellers.


    International travellers brought in $137 billion in 2015, a number that remained flat due to the rising value of the US Dollar (this number had grown an average of 7% since 2007). Still the USTA expects 90 million international visitors a year by 2020 – currently there are 75 million.


    Overseas visitors stay longer (18 days) and spend more (average of $4400) than other travellers, led by tourists from China and Brazil – visitors from each of these countries has grown more than 100% in the past six years. In New York, 37% of international tourists come from Europe, 24% from South America, and 17% from Asia.


    Many more statistics about domestic and international visitors can be found in the Member Documents section on the GANYC web site.


    The USTA continues to advocates for policies to help travel grow, including protecting and expanding the visa waiver program, which has come under increased scrutiny since the Paris attacks this fall. Improving US travel infrastructure is also a priority, where the US is falling behind. Faulkner urged guides to get involved by joining the Power of Travel Coalition and participating in Destination Capitol Hill, the legislative fly-in to have travel professionals meet with members of Congress. GANYC will be sending two representatives this year).


    Other topics covered at the conference included Using Technology for Booking and Guiding Tours, Safe Guiding and Dealing with Emergencies, and the Challenges of the International Tourist. Check out the Member Documents section on the GANYC web site for more on these topics.


    Emma Guest-Consales contributed to this report. 












  7. Spotlight on Industry Partner: Neirs Tavern

    Introducing Loycent Gorden of Neir's Tavern, the most famous bar you've never heard of. 
    What year did your business open?
    Has your company or organization or any members of the organization received any awards (recently or in the past)?
    2015 Queens Best Bar and Best Bartender award by Queens Courier Newspaper
    Owner received Community Service Award 2016 Received business of the year 2010 for saving the bar from closing down
    NYC's oldest continuously operating bar still located in the same place from inception.
    Neir’s has appeared in block buster films such as “Tower Heist” with Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. Director Brett Ratner loved the place so much that he said he will prominently feature Neir’s exterior and interior for the world to see. And he did. Watching the movie one sees the Neir’s prominently displayed prior to the bar scene.
    Neirs was featured on the Emmy Awarded show “New York Originals” for its down to earth whole-hearted history and later featured in the book being sold nationally.
    Many scenes of the venerable Goodfellas was filmed at Neir’s with Robert Deniro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco and many more stepping into Neir’s to play out their roles which went on to bring them much fame. Many has watch these films & visited Neirs to point out the scenes.
    YouTube Video Link:
    What drove you to work or create this company/organization? What's your story?
    It was 3 days from closing down and jumped in to try to keep it open. I had no bar or restaurant experience and learned as I went along. The mission for neirs tavern is "To preserve the history of nyc's oldest bar by connecting with the community we serve".
    For more info or to reserve a table check out their website:
  8. Spotlight on GANYC Member: Becky Hoffman

    We would like to introduce one of our GANYC tour guides, Becky Hoffman!
    Meet Becky Hoffman, a woman who brings much enthusiasm as a New York City Tour Guide! In 1997, Becky trained with ITMI (International Tour Management Institute) and has been an active tour guide since her graduation. In 2000, she became a licensed certified NYC tour guide. In addition to directing student and adult tour groups in spring, she spent more than eight summers doing several week long tours in our majestic National Parks. Today, her focus is in the Big Apple or Manhattan, specializing in walking tours of various neighborhoods and general city tours for groups ranging from one to 200 people.....all custom or private tours. Before beginning her career as a tour guide, Becky worked simultaneously in several different careers. In NYC she was an English teacher and mother. After relocating to Atlanta for two decades, she became an associate professor at Georgia State University, played professional drums with her own band, and became a local NBC television health and medical reporter, winning several awards and an Emmy. In the 1990s, she traveled, solo, around the globe for months at a time. Touring and travel are the come join me!!
    How long have you been a tour guide?
    For 19 years!
    What is the most gratifying part of your work?
    Interacting with clients and enjoying their delight at the end of the tour.
    How long have you been a member of GANYC?
    A decade
    Do you offer Niche Tours? 
    Diamond District tours, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, Highline, Soho and Chinatown
    How has GANYC helped you and your business?
    Interaction with peer guides which also lead to referrals for work.
    For more info or to book a tour visit her GANYC profile by clicking HERE
  9. GANYC Response to Québec situation

    This is GANYC's response to the licensing issue in Québec.


    Guides Association of New York City
    P O BOX 4648
    New York, NY 10185-4648
    Phone: 855-57-GANYC


    January 15, 2016



    GANYC - Guides Association of New York City, a member of the WFTGA and NFTGA, join our colleagues from around the world in decrying the recent news that the city of Québec, under pressure from tour operators, is considering removing training and licensing requirements for tourist guides.


    We believe that regulation and training of tourist guides is essential for the benefit of the tourist to ensure an accurate, enjoyable and memorable experience.  One that may encourage return visits or at the least, encouraging acquaintances to visit as well.


    It also provides consumer protection and redress, should the tourist feel they did not receive the service promised for the fees paid.


    The tourist guide is the personal face of a country or city for travelers and often is the only local person the tourist engages in meaningful conversations.


    Information provided by well-trained guides contributes significantly to the cultural understanding of the country/city visited.  A UNESCO protected city such as Québec has a vital interest in protecting the quality of the site-specific information being presented by guides.


    Since 1974 GANYC has been the professional organization for Tourist Guides in New York City.  We believe that guides are ambassadors for our city and, as such, should represent the highest standards.  Standards that can only be maintained by training and licensing.  We hope that the authorities of Québec will reconsider their position in this matter.


     We also support WFTGA member APGT- Montréal and their certification and licensing program and the APGT-Montréal bike guide training program.





    Michael Dillinger

    President, GANYC


  10. Spotlight on GANYC Member: Minna Scharff

    Spotlight on GANYC guide:
    We would like to introduce one of our GANYC tour guides, Minna Scharff.
    Born in Brooklyn, a soccer mom in Greenwich Village (no minivan, just the "3" and "F" trains) and now a tour guide that explores everything old and new in her native city.  A social worker by profession and licensed New York City tour guide of 12 years. Has experience doing everything from small private tours to large student groups for Smithsonian student travel.  A NYC culture vulture, passionate theater-goer, restaurant troller and avid disscount shopper.  
    How long have you been a tour guide?
    13 years
    What drove you to become a tour guide or tour operator or create this company/organization? What's your story?
    I was a caseworker for 10 years for the bureau of child welfare and had to investigate allegations of child abuse in all the Boros of  New York city. As a relief from the job I would familiarize myself  with the neighborhoods my clients lived. I hated the job but loved the character of the neighborhoods. This was in the 70's and I have observed how these neighborhoods changed over the years.
    What is the most gratifying part of your work? 
    The job begins and ends, unlike social works which never ends.
    How long have you been a member of GANYC?
    10 years
    How did you hear or learn about GANYC?
    A fellow tour guide.
    What types of tours do you offer? (Walking, Biking, Bus, etc...) Could you describe them for us?
    • 5 Boros in 5 days for both student and seniors.
    How has GANYC helped you and your business?
    Through the FAM tours and GANYC website.
    For more information or to book a tour with Minna Scharff visit her GANYC profile by clicking here.


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GANYC is an association of independent tour guides. Each member is licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. GANYC provides a listing of all member guides to the public. GANYC is not liable, or responsible, for contractual obligations made between clients and tour guides. GANYC stands for Guides Association Of New York City.
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