Since January and the first news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China, the whole world is constantly reporting, discussing and reading about the epidemic.
The virus is impacting all sectors, from higher education to retail, from hospitality to transportation and has particularly affected travel and tourism. Public safety concerns and travel restrictions, cancellations of high profile tourism events and cruise boat quarantines have seen a drop in movement of travelers. The full effects of the spread of the virus in the tourism market will not become apparent for months to come and are expected to continue in the next year.
Source: World Health Organisation, https://www.who.int/images/default-source/health-topics/coronavirus/social-media-squares/blue-3.png
Tourist Guides are at the forefront of the situation as they deal with a high volume of visitors from all around the world. They are also particularly vulnerable to tourist market fluctuations and cancellations are expected to affect incomes.
We understand that tourist guides are very anxious about their health, their clients’ health and the impact of the virus on their livelihood. For this reason we urge our members to follow some simple instructions:
To protect your health and others:
- Wash your hands frequently either with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub which can be carried in your bag.
- Always wash your hands when you get home from work.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with your hands as this can transfer the virus.
- Make sure you cover your mouth and nose, with a tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing. Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards.
- If you or your clients feel sick ask for medical care and avoid contact.
- Make sure you get information from reputable sources. All national governments and health departments publish up to date information and instructions on how to deal with the virus. Do not trust word of mouth or social media.
To protect your job:
- Use government websites as sources when replying to clients’ questions and don’t dismiss or scaremonger.
- Make sure you state your cancellation terms clearly and in accordance with the rules of your association. While we all understand the reasons for wishing to cancel an arranged visit in the current circumstances, it is important that we also survive as professionals.
- Work closely with the tour operators and clients to see how you and your clients can be protected. Be reasonable in your expectations.
- Remember that while the Asian market has been dramatically affected by the virus, other markets, such as the North and South American markets, are mostly unaffected.
- Follow the example of our Tenerife colleagues and be helpful without placing your own health at risk. In the recent closure of the H10 Hotel in Tenerife, colleagues were praised for keeping guests informed and occupied while the officials worked to contain the virus outbreak.
- Don’t discriminate against certain nationalities.
- And most of all don’t panic.
Olga Miquel, Portuguese tourist guide in action, © FEG/ SNATTI
The European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (FEG) is monitoring the situation and follows developments in the market closely. FEG, in conjunction with other Tourism Manifesto stakeholders, has released a press release urging the European Union and national governments to consider the implications of the virus and to support tourism. We are also being updated by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation on developments.
It will undoubtedly be a challenging year for all. However, with a measured response, good sense and professionalism, which always characterises tourist guides, we can be sure to come over the other side.
For more information on how to deal with the virus and for other helpful advice visit the website for the World Health
Published by FEG Team