Published on : Tuesday, September 1, 2020
London’s tourist guides are starting their work again slowly with easing of lockdown restrictions, and adapting to new health and safety rules for restricting the spread of the virus. Tourist numbers have declined but it’s the background of the clients that has changed the most.
Now customers to various tourist attractions in London are mainly British. Decreasing numbers of overseas clients are mostly due to quarantine measures imposed by the British government regarding foreign visitors.
“We have far more Britons than we had,” said Olivia Calvert, a tourist guide. “It’s a huge shift. They’re expecting something else, something different.”
The 90-minute Jack the Ripper tour remains one of London’s most popular, along with the Harry Potter tour.
“The British already know London’s famous monuments, so they expect something else,” said Calvert. Antony Robbins, an independent guide said, “We’re changing the way we work because we have to. We need to be more creative.”
Although few guides have been able to get back to work, many tourism professionals — mainly freelancers not linked to major attractions — are finding it difficult to sustain. Only six staff at ‘London With A Local’ have returned to work and the number of weekly guided tours has been cut by half.
The World Travel & Tourism Council predicted that Britain’s economy will lose about £22 billion ($29 billion) this year due to the outbreak.
British tourism promotion body VisitBritain also said that the number of foreign tourists will fall by 73 percent this year, to 11 million people, and this decline is mainly due to grounded aircraft and travel restrictions.
In London, guides are worried about the lack of American visitors, who tip well. But now, they are also subject to quarantine restrictions.