Useful Info for Tour Guides and Tour Operators in New Orleans

When we started Spectral City we were just a couple of tour guides who felt we could give our guests a better experience than the tour companies we had worked with. We had no idea how to go about making our dream a reality, and it was HARD!


Now that we are all set up we want to help YOU get set up too! Are you an aspiring tour guide unsure how best to get your license? Or are you part of a new tour company and can't seem to find an insurance carrier who will work with you?

Then you are in the right place! Let's work together to make the New Orleans tour community one of mutual support and promote compassion together!!

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So You Want To Be A Tour Guide

First we'd like to welcome you to the family! New Orleans history is well worthy of study, and giving tours can be so rewarding. (It can also be a hellish experience, but only sometimes!!)

Your first stop should be to the One Stop Shop page HERE. Tour licenses are issued and regulations are enforced by the Ground Transportation Bureau (for some reason).

Next up is the test! They recommend reading a book called Beautiful Crescent, but this is not necessary for passing the test. Also it's not an amazing book. We recommend using a flashcard based study method like the cards available HERE.


You'll need to know the locations of various statues around the city (the list is in the back of The Beautiful Crescent), be able to identify the three types of columns (doric, ionic, Corinthian), know different types of architecture in NOLA (shotgun, camelback, creole cottage, etc), be able to spot a gallery vs balcony. It would be a good idea to become familiar with this French Quarter Map. You only need 70% to pass, and can always retake it!

You'll pay a fee to apply for a license ($50). You'll also need to go to a different place in town and get a Federal background check (and pay for that, too. Up to $75).

After getting your license, it's time to start cold calling tour companies! Always remember that even if you really need the work, you still have value as a person and as a guide. Don't let the negativity of some parts of NOLA tour guide culture get you down ♥

So You're Starting a Tour Company

Congrats and good luck! There is always room for Tour Operators who care about their guests, their guides, and their community.

The most difficult part of getting our feet under us was finding an insurance company that would insure our walking tours. After lots of research that didn't go anywhere, the wonderful buccaneers at Pirates of the Quarter helped us out!

Check out Hebert Wiltz Insurance.

If you are a tour company with insurance through a different provider, please let us know and we will include it here.

We will be adding more to this page as time allows. Happy tours!