The lifting of travel bans and the removal of PCR test requirements does not only bring relief to travelers only but to tour guides who make a living out of navigating trips and showing visitors around.
With all the easing of regulations, some guides seem to have caught on the flame, as they are seen on social media posting their hosting trips with international tourists already flocking in, ready to be shown around by the destination gurus.
In South Africa, like many countries the retail prices escalated up high since the beginning of the pandemic, and despite the R200 million tour guiding relief fund allocated by government in 2021, financial burdens kept sky rocketing for many guides. For some to the extent of losing their properties while some took their own lives.
The National Federation of Tour guides and Affiliates (NFTGA) as an activist for tour guides, play their role in assisting the decrease of the suicide scourge the most, and to help raise funds to those who are in financial distress.
The focus of NFTGA is to ensure that tour guides and drivers are recognised and not overlooked by the tourism sector their trade ground, as well as the national government as a whole.
Their objective is to also forge support through food relief and mental health issues. The federation also contributes with uplifting and promoting of work opportunities both in and outside of the tourism fraternity.
Francois Collin and his wife Zania Collin, the Chairperson of the NFTGA are some of the guides who were also affected by the pandemic and barely saw any business during the lockdown.
As a tour guiding couple that is dedicated to advocate for the tour guiding business, they were not spared the plight that came with the Covid19 hit, causing them too to face strenuous financial bottleneck.
Francois says the worry is becoming part of the plight statistic of loosing property due to being unable to pay mortgage or other distressing health causing issues.
“It can devastating thought to be out of a job especially now that everything is highly expensive. there is no tour guide i know that wants to become part of the statistics where they end up taking their own lives due to the distress of financial burdens brewed in the absence of work”
Fancois and wife Zania recently converted their office into a live-able space at home, in order to generate some income.
Lucky for them, they are slowly incorporating themselves and others and are gradually going back in the field and seeing a bit of movement with all the airports and airline operations taking shape.
This is good and might mean that despite the global economic shake due to covid19 and other factors involved, there is a possible economic reconstructive silver lining, specially on the South African tourism industry with all the delight of travelers flocking in to the country, port to port.