Difference between drivers, tourist guides and tour escorts
Please kindly pay the due attention to the essential difference between an English-speaking driver and a local guide/tour escort in order to ensure the selection of the right professional you need for your tour.
An English-speaking driver is a licensed professional local car driver who is fluent in English, who knows the region very well, who can give you non-specific information about the area. Drivers cannot provide any historical and artistic explanations nor leading guests to visit tourist attractions and archaeological sites, unless they also awarded a guide license (very rare but existing combined conditions which involves a service supplement and which is available in very few destinations like Ireland or the UK). Contravening this type of regulation means risking a fine for the driver by the local authorities responsible for this type of checks. Very strict controls exist in many destinations. The service with an English-speaking driver service is recommended when you just need a skilled professional to lead you around at the destination and you need just logistic and non- specific assistance. In addition, drivers have special access (permission) to reach spots, which may not be open to other drivers including some pedestrian areas. Please note that in many historical centres drivers cannot park the vehicle straightforwardly and be always next to you during your visits. In those occasions, they will provide all the detailed information on what to see in the surroundings and do on your own.
A tourist guide, on the other hand, is a licensed professional, who has studied a lot and taken rather complex and difficult exams, to be authorized to do this specific work. Generally, a tour guide has local skills, awarded with a special badge that identifies the competence by territory, language and type of authorization. A tourist guide can accompany tourists everywhere, especially in archaeological sites, museums, churches, monuments, and of course offer all the historical and artistic explanations of interest to customers.
A tour escort, is another type of licensed local professional , who specializes in the following duties: escort clients, performing meet&greet, assisting clients, regulate and manage the timing of a group, ensure the presence and involvement of the participants, verify and confirm facilities and services, provide and explain the travel program, make sure that the group works in harmony, provide information on the places you intend to visit, manage any excursions, buy tickets for museums or means of transport, manage reservations with restaurants and accommodation facilities, resolve any problems that may arise during the trip. So a professional tour leader is not a guide (and cannot therefore provide strictly historical explanations in the monuments), but can provide general information of any kind, and give the most complete assistance to customers while staying with them. This type of professional is available exclusively in Italy, Greece and Spain. For all other destinations, it is always necessary to choose a tour guide.