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It comes after a Tory MSP criticized Heritage Environment Scotland (HES) – which is responsible for some of the country’s most famous tourist attractions such as Edinburgh Castle and Linlithgow Palace – following newspaper reports of a “ban” on non-inclusive language.
Borders-based Scottish Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton said: “By telling staff not to use these perfectly normal words and phrases, HES has only ensured that staff spend more time questioning themselves than dealing with the to keep visitors busy at Scotland’s most famous attractions.
“They should get rid of this overwhelming manual and allow employees to do their jobs and speak freely and naturally on the topics they know best.”
But HES said there was no ban and the guidance that sparked the attack was a single sheet of paper prepared by HES’ LGBT+ network for colleagues to be helpful, rather than part of a manual or set of instructions was.
The guidance states: “Our visitor-centric teams are key to the success of our organization. They help us welcome millions of people to our websites every year.
“A key part of providing excellent customer care is ensuring that we make no assumptions about people and that our communications are as comprehensive as possible. This helps everyone to have a positive and pleasant experience with us.
“Using inclusive language respects all of our customers, regardless of gender, personal situation or other characteristics. It helps us provide our visitors with the best, most welcoming service we can and treat everyone equally.
“The most important thing is not to assume that you can pinpoint a person’s gender or background. It is better to use gender neutral and inclusive language to make everyone feel welcome and respected.”
The sheet then provides examples of inclusive language that could be used by tour guides. Instead of greeting “Ladies and gentlemen”, it suggests “Good morning everyone, and welcome to the castle”.
Instead of addressing visitors as “sir/madam,” it suggests, “Would you like an audio guide, folks?” or “Would you be interested in a guided tour?” And instead of referring to “sons/daughters” or “boys/girls,” it suggests, “Would the kids in your group like trivia sheets?”
It is also recommended to say “grown up” or “grown up” instead of “mommy/dad”.
A spokesman for HES said: “Our guidance for visitor operations staff categorically does not prohibit the use of any word or phrase – it gives some examples of commonly used language and suggests more inclusive alternatives. This is to ensure our employees can avoid assuming someone’s background and use inclusive language to make everyone feel welcome and respected.”
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