Wika Trel is the Guidor representative at FEG.
How was the lockdown for you?
In the Netherlands, the beginning of the guiding season traditionally starts in mid-March with the grand opening of the Keukenhof Gardens. Also known as the Garden of Europe, Keukenhof Park hosts every year the world-famous tulip festival.
Visitors enjoy Keukenhof Gardens, 2019 © Guidor
This year though, instead of guiding our first visitors in the colourful fields of North Holland, we received cancellations. Our private clients and tour operators cancelled all planned tours for March first, then April, then till the end of May, June, July... A familiar situation for tourism professionals in Europe and the world.
The lockdown did not stop the volunteer members of Guidor’s Executive Board and various Committees. Skype and Zoom screen time replaced face-to-face meetings as preparations continued for next year’s certification exams for new candidates. Guidor kept members informed with special issues of the Executive Board Newsletter giving “Covid-19” updates and covering issues such as state help for self-employed guides, surveys on financial implications and reflections on the future of tourism in the Netherlands.
Speaking to the press, Guidor Chairperson - Bobien val Aalst, reflected: “800,000 jobs are depended on tourism in the Netherlands. Tourism in an important pillar of our life here. Imagine a scenario where in-coming tourists would not return soon. It will have a gloomy domino-effect for the country”.
Guidor member, Frank Driessen, participated in the Re-Invent Tourism Online Festival by giving a virtual tour in the Amsterdam Business and Financial Centre Zuidas. Could this be the future of guiding?
On a personal level, many guides used this imposed ‘free time’ time to follow online courses, webinars, including those offered by the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations, or to brush up on a foreign language. Guidor’s Education Committee is looking into a new winter season of Continuous Professional Development programmes.
Finally, to keep spirits up, Guidor colleagues, Mike Utterwijk and Paul Bartels, organised a WhatsApp ‘Quizz2020’. The Quiz was a huge success and the undisputable winner, Julia Wagner, received the prize in a form of a free participation in the future CPD programme. Congratulations to all participants and to Julia!
Something to party about!
“We are ready!, the official Guidor poster © Guidor
To everyone’s relief, on June 1 the Netherlands lifted the lockdown: museums, restaurants and cafés re-opened. Cautiously tours and lectures could start getting organised again. It was a cause for celebration and the Hard Rock Café in Amsterdam, invited Guidor guides for a special post-lockdown cocktail! At the occasion, guides could finally meet and… exercise social distancing and other safety measures.
Hard Rock Café party © Wika Trel
Celebrations not withstanding safety measures are still in place and must be observed. In compliance with Dutch Health Authority guidelines, Guidor has developed its own “good practice” guide.
To alleviate the harsh economic situation of the guides and give the first tourists the chance to go on tour, Guidor launched from July 1, a "Summer 2020" action with walk-up guided tours. Individual tourists are offered 2-hour local walking tours from Wednesday through Sunday in English, German and Dutch. All the tours are in accordance with government approved health and safety measures. With this ation we are RESTARTING guiding.
With this action we are RESTARTING guiding in the Netherlands!