For Introduction, I am a Tour Guide in Delhi, India and I gave a tour in the pandemic after 5 months of break. I nail down the distinctive tours like Food, Photography, Heritage, Architecture, and so on.
I am so passionate about my work that I didn’t care about holidays or festivals, all I wanted or want is to have a great tour and show my guests my city around even during important Indian festivities like Holi or Diwali.
Pandemic Was Coming
Little did I know my life would change as on the 9th of March, when whole India was celebrating the festival of colors, Holi. And I was giving a tour even on the day of the festival. I had no idea that it would be my last. Or at least I thought so. Until now!
Things changed for me when I got an offer to conduct a tour of Delhi from a company named Delhi Architecture Walks (big thanks to them). I was surprised and thought it was a pun pulled on me. At first, I did not take them seriously. But then they shared the details and it dawned on me that it is happening for real. I will do a tour after the break of 5 months. (you could see the excitement in my eyes).
At this moment, COVID-19 is increasing in India at the highest rate in the world. The fact that COVID-19 is still present and spreading like anything gives little scares to me. But I made up my mind to do this tour and to do this tour even if it will be my last. I did not want to miss this opportunity or any opportunity to take a tour. After all, this is what I am living for.
Usually, I take 3 different modes of transport (Tuk-Tuk, Bus, Metro) to meet the guests at the meeting point. This time I borrowed my father’s car (luckily, he is working from home). And prepared myself by keeping a few face masks, hand sanitizer, wet wipes in my bag because you know, safety first. Also tried to cover myself as much as possible by wearing a full sleeves shirt, full pants, shoes, cap, and yes, obviously a mask. (Remember, Safety First!!).
The tour was on Sunday, and Sundays are usually not very busy in Delhi. It was scheduled for 8 AM, to avoid the crowd, which we usually do not have that much on Sundays.
I met my guest sometime after 8. She was one of the bravest and smartest guests I have ever met. I was surprised to see her confidence. She has been to many war-torn countries on work. So, she knew how to follow safety precautions. And was ready for the adventure with all the safety of masks and sanitizers.
We walked through the newly built lanes of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi. The new work done looks very charming and adds a lot of comfort and space. We walked smoothly and without any trouble as there were very few people on the street. There was a good amount of distance between us and between us and the people.
We did the whole tour for 3 hours. During the tour, we applied hand sanitizer frequently (for the lack of soap and water). And did not remove our face masks at any point. We drank water from our water bottles at secluded places. Though we had to touch some surfaces, we made sure to wash or to cover the surface with a wet wipe to avoid direct contact. After that, we also washed our hands with hand sanitizer even after using the wet wipes on the surfaces.
We walked throughout the tour and avoided taking Tuk-Tuk or any public transport. Also avoided entering the narrow lanes or passages of Old Delhi and did not eat anything during the tour.
The tour went very well after taking all the precautions, and my guest enjoyed it a lot. She had one of the greatest experiences of Delhi (in the pandemic).
There is Hope
Through this post, I want to motivate and urge the tourists and tourism professionals to start with work but with precaution. The tours can be done safely if we are mindful of safety and follow the necessary precautions. I am sharing a short checklist (detailed) with you for the reference.
How to conduct tours in COVID-19:
- Choose a place and day with less crowd
- Carry face masks and hand sanitizers. You can also carry face shields and gloves if possible
- Wear full-length clothes and well-covered shoes
- Frequently wash your hands with sanitizer
- Avoid touching surfaces
- Sanitize or cover the surface if need to touch and sanitize yourself after touching
- Avoid eating or drinking outside
- Carry your water bottle and drink water in a secluded place
- Avoid public transport like buses or Tuk-Tuk
- Do inform and train your guides and guests
- Most importantly! Don’t forget to enjoy, you are on a tour
I hope the checklist will be helpful in starting your tours again. Please follow the WHO guidelines. My checklist is for suggestion purposes only.
So, I gave a tour in the pandemic and I believe there is hope for tourism.
It is the right time to build trust in tourists. And I am ready for the challenge. Do you want to join me?Ashwani Bhati (TheHorsesKing)