Covid Crisis prompts Change
I have been a tour guide for 20 years and for the last few years had been happily touring England and Wales enjoying showing American groups the delights of the British countryside and heritage.
I enjoy travelling and through the winter have been exploring the world. I was on an extended trip through Africa when I heard of the increasing problems Covid was causing in the travel industry .
Shortly after getting home, like everyone else, I found myself in lockdown with my inbox constantly pinging with job cancellations including several into the next year - 2021. Once I'd sorted those long-intended home jobs and got some chickens for company, I began to wonder what I could do to with the hours - increasingly looking like months - stuck at home when I was used to roaming the country with enthusiastic holiday makers solving their problems as a tour manager and entertaining them with an interpretive commentary.
I have always believed in dividing my time to ensure I get a good mix of physical activity, brain exercise, socialising, creativity and having a goal to work towards. I was listening to a business blog and heard a comment about wise companies spending in a recession and saving in a boom.
This got me thinking about what I could do that would give me an income in the near future and keep me busy whilst restricted to my homeland and the government then awarded a grant to the self-employed affected by the disruption. It was soon obvious that overseas visitors would take a lot longer to return than the British and for at least this season people would feel more comfortable staying in self-catering accommodation than mingling in hotels.
North Wales has traditionally had the large part of its visitor market being the home market. There are many large parks of caravans - these days better called lodges and a lot of those are holiday homes for families from Liverpool and Manchester. Soon they would be flocking back as Wales' lockdown forbade travel of more than 5 miles and anyone staying overnight. Three months in a city in a lockdown with the kids at home - they would be desperate to come back to the coast and would want things to do whilst here!
Ten years ago when I lived in Snowdonia I had helped a friend with a ghost tour in Caernarfon. We found that early evening was the best time - the shops had closed and people were looking for things to do before dinner - or after tea if they had young children. The adults wanted a tour of the town with the local and national history and the kids were tempted to come along by being promised ghost stories. I thought of the town tours I'd been on in York and Edinburgh - costumed guides were always a hit and I knew how many photographs were taken of the lady in Welsh costume outside the smallest house. Having a sense of place of being in Wales was important to me.
I decided that my project - and future income - would be to develop Conwy Tours
Amanda Whitehead Official Wales Tourist Guide.