Deserted London streets without any locals and tourists to enjoy one of the world’s most visited cities?
Such thoughts would have been so very far from the thoughts of most Tour Operators and Tour Guides at the turn of the year – as inbound UK tourism was growing, and London was set for a bumper 2020.
The current situation was totally unexpected, and if anyone had said there would be no spring and summer season this year, then nobody would have believed them.
(These are images recently taken by 2 accredited London Driver Guides Mark Taylor and Paul Williams)
The near global lockdown is impacting heavily on travel as well of course as the whole global economy.
Reality dawns, and we all live in a different world now.
Lockdown is a luxury – compared to the situation some poor souls suffer in intensive care units.
Quarantine has created new habits – with washing hands and mask wearing all of a sudden becoming hip and trendy.
Travellers who have been locked down for so long will be eager to travel again – and let’s be honest, tours and activities really are the BEST part of travel.
Visitors will however be more concerned than ever before about their health and safety, as we go through the steadied phases of recovery.
Consumer confidence will return but only very gradually to start with, and social distancing will be encouraged as a measure to prevent a second wave of coronavirus until a vaccine is developed.
Perhaps visitors will balance nature and its great open spaces at first, with open air experiences becoming more of a trend.
Responsible tourism therefore needs to take a firm stand.
Even before any Government legislation regarding hygiene, health and safety guidelines are considered, Tour Operators and Guides should be prepared to offer masks, gloves and hand sanitisers as good practice.
Guests will surely feel more comfortable and cared for throughout their experience – if we adhere to good public health standards in a responsible manner.
The long term future of the tourist industry is at stake here – responsible tourism was already important to our industry, but it could now be a game-changer in sustaining our sector’s future.
Tour Operators are going to need to re-invent themselves for #Travel in the New Normal
Curators and sellers of tours and activities will have an important role to play once travel restrictions start easing and tourism rebounds.
There has to be a great all-round team effort on the strong focus on public health and the reducing the spread of more spikes in infection rates.
We can accept that airport experiences will change as aviation plans for a different future – but once in-destination, tourists should expect a whole new deal.
Public health screening may well be a consideration for visit attractions and museums – with entrance only by ticket, and with reduced capacity.
For tours and activities there will be a preference at first for small private groups like families and couples – with the presentation stops deliberately engineered in less crowded locations with more contactless experiences.
In London purpose built vehicles such as the Black Cab will have some appeal for city sightseeing.
London’s iconic traditional Black Cabs have a maximum seating capacity for up to 6 guests in a private setting.
A transparent partition screen provides a safe distance between travelling parties and their Driver Guide host, exceeding the current minimum 2 metres minimum distance Government guidelines.
These vehicles are sanitised with cleaning agents by their owner drivers after each tour activity – specifically designed to combat the transmission of COVID-19.
The new Electric Black Cabs also provide a window roof – which is absolutely perfect for London sightseeing and getting up close and personal with those ‘must see’ icons – without exiting the vehicles, until a suitable less crowded location is preferred for a presentation stop.
London Black Cabs also take pride in their wheelchair accessibility, which would be a particular confidence boost for those travellers with disabilities
Local, then regional travel will surely kick in first before inter-continental tourism.
The travel industry has been especially hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, but it has seen major setbacks before – financial crashes, disease, terrorism etc. – but thankfully has always bounced back.
Our instantly recognisable and world famous London landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards and Abbey Road will always be here – and one day our tourists will return.