OVERVIEW AND INFORMATION
Welcome to the IRF Guide Training and Education (GTE) Certification Awards System. The system was developed in response to the demands of rafting guides, river tour companies and river regulatory authorities from various parts of the world that were seeking to establish universal minimum standards for commercial river guides and instructors.
As the recognized body that oversees rafting activities worldwide, the IRF was selected to establish these standards. A GTE committee was created and the advice and help of expert guides, instructors and industry leaders from around the world was solicited to determine what should be included in the standards and how the scheme should be administered and accredited. The basic intentions of the scheme are to provide a means of recognising guides, trip leaders and instructors that meet or exceed internationally accepted standards. The certification awards have been designed to complement existing requirements, regulations and laws worldwide by giving a structure to their common elements. Additionally, the scheme is intended to provide an internationally recognised structure for the professional development of river guides and instructors.
The IRF GTE Certification Award is recognized and accepted around the world as proof of whitewater guiding competency, and in some countries it has been adapted as a national standard and requirement. The IRF is also recognized by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the two largest tourism bodies in the world, as the world body responsible for establishing and administering commercial raft guide standards. In all cases, the IRF GTE Certification Award serves as an acceptable proof of guide or instructor knowledge and skills when a regional or nationally issued certification is not required. For guides who wish to travel and work on rivers outside of their own country, the IRF GTE Certification Award is often the only certification they will need. (Some countries may still require a guide to obtain a national or regionally issued certification as well.)
Note: 2016 updates to the program are currently underway – see a summary with links.
HISTORY Of DEVELOPMENT
In September 1998 the GTE committee took on the relatively straightforward task of defining the basic requirements for rafting guides and instructors that over time and through constant interaction have become widely and generally accepted worldwide. Once defined, these requirements were intended to provide the basis for a) recommendations on the training and recognition of guides and instructors for all those that are involved in or have an impact on the industry, particularly government regulators, and b) a system by which guides could be recognized worldwide.
The first documents were drafted and circulated for comment to guides and instructors around the world. In August 1999 these drafts were further reviewed and discussed at a formal workshop. After debate and revisions, final versions were agreed upon and the resulting documents, subject to periodic review, were published. Links to these documents are found here.
Considering the worldwide trend towards the regulation of adventure activities, including rafting, the formulation of recommendations was considered both timely and necessary if the drafting of inappropriate regulation (which already exists in some countries) was to be avoided. Additionally, many guides would benefit from holding an internationally recognized certification for having satisfied internationally accepted norms.
The first document “Recommended Minimum Requirements for Guides” was drafted and circulated for comment to guides and instructors in Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, England, Germany, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, USA, Wales and Zimbabwe. The subsequent documents, “Recommended Minimum Content for a Guide Training Program”, “Guide Training and Education Award Scheme”, and “Guide Training and Education Award Scheme Assessment Guidelines”, went through a similar process that lasted several months. In August 1999 the drafts resulting from the process of consultation were further reviewed and discussed at a workshop held near the Augrabies Gorge of the Orange river in north eastern South Africa. The final versions were agreed upon by twenty representatives from Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Croatia, England, Scotland, South Africa, USA, Wales, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The resulting documents, subject to periodic review, are published on the IRF website in English and several other languages.
At the Augrabies workshop the first group of IRF Assessors and Instructors were qualified according to the newly finalized scheme requirements. Within the scheme, GTE Instructors are responsible for examining candidates for the Guide and the Trip Leader certification awards, and GTE Assessors are responsible for examining new Instructor candidates as well as all other candidates. Since the Augrabies workshop, GTE workshops have been held in nearly all countries where commercial rafting occurs. The scheme is continuing to experience growth and wide acceptance as it becomes better known and as IRF Instructors and Assessors bring it into new areas. A list of current IRF Certified Guides, Trip Leaders, Instructors and Assessors can be found here.
For further information on the IRF GTE Certification Award, and how you may obtain the certification for yourself or guides under your employ, please check the links on this website. A listing of upcoming GTE examinations and workshops can be found here.