Some governments have been easing restrictions as travel demand is starting to pick up again. This raises the question of what it’s like to be back on the road as a tour guide. We have been speaking to Pedro, an Originals guide based in the beautiful Douro Valley in Portugal, and have gained some valuable insights.
GetYourGuide: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you become a tour guide?
Pedro: I always dreamed of working in tourism. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that I discovered the beauty of Douro Valley and with that my passion to show people from all over the world my home country. I started by working in a winery, then moved to becoming a tour guide and the rest is history.
GetYourGuide: The year turned out very differently than all of us expected. How was the lockdown for you?
Pedro: The quarantine has changed my life. I always try to make the best out of a situation and decided during the lockdown that it was time for a restart. From that day on, I walked 10 km every day. I now appreciate the beautiful nature in the valley even more. From a professional perspective, it was challenging of course, but CMTour, the company I work for, has supported me the entire time. We are like a close-knit family and have been updated on a regular basis about measures the company has taken and plans for the reopening.
GetYourGuide: Your Originals tour was launched recently. How did you prepare for it?
Pedro: I was really excited about the reopening and keen to give tours again right from the beginning. We had a couple of meetings ahead of running the first tour to learn everything about the new health & safety measures. This was important to ensure we comply with government guidelines but actually, we go above and beyond them.
GetYourGuide: Can you tell us more about the health & safety measures in place?
Pedro: Where to start! For example, we now have max. 4 people in a 9-seater minivan. The vehicles are cleaned and disinfected during and after the tour and only I as the guide touches the door handle. There is a lot of hand sanitiser in use during the day and we all wear masks. The tour also involves visits to wineries, a restaurant and a boat trip. It’s important that these partners also have excellent measures in place to ensure the safety of our customers. It’s a holistic approach and the new standards work really well.
GetYourGuide: And how do the customers react to these new measures?
Pedro: Great, actually. Customers want safety and appreciate what we’ve put in place for them. We never had an incident of someone not complying. What is important is to explain why these measures are in place and why they are important. Sometimes customers compare our regulations with the ones in their home countries and point out differences which is interesting.
GetYourGuide: Next to the health & safety measures, are things back to normal for you?
Pedro: Nearly. Last week I was able to work again for 5 days which was amazing. People seem to be eager to travel again and enjoy some time outside. The Douro Valley Originalsis great because it’s outside in nature, not a busy city, and includes wine tasting and a cruise so that customers can really relax and switch off. What I do miss though is the contact with the people. A handshake, a helping hand to get out of the minivan – things like that, you know.
GetYourGuide: What do you think the next couple of months and years will look like for you?
Pedro: While this year has been a tough one for sure, I’m optimistic about 2021 and believe that travel will return. There might be a shift where people travel to and I think that places in nature might become more popular. Portugal has a lot of beautiful countryside places and I’m excited to show customers around the stunning valley. We need to say positive and hopeful.
GetYourGuide: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the other Originals guides out there?
Pedro: I think the re-opening of tours also brings opportunities for us. For example, smaller groups allow me to pay more attention to each customer and really personalise the experience. Just a couple of days ago, I wanted to pick up a group from the winery. Turns out they just ordered more wine and it was great to have the flexibility to stay there a bit longer. At the end of the day, when a customer leaves the tour happy, I’m happy too.