Dear WFTGA Members, Tourist Guide colleagues and friends of the WFTGA family,
If someone had said to us at the end of 2019 that 2020 would be a year that Global conversations would include words such as ‘pandemic’, ‘lockdown’, ‘social distancing’, ‘negative oil prices’, ‘mass cancellations’… would we have believed them? This sudden change has been dramatic and feels like an unimaginable dream. It is an unnerving, strange and confusing time, something that perhaps for the first time unites every single one us as we all navigate these uncharted waters.
It is without a doubt that 2020 is proving to not only be a year for the History books, but a year where humanity has had to face challenges, philosophical conversations, reassessment of priorities and gratitude at levels never seen before. Time creates a balance of perspective and perhaps presents an opportunity for change.
We are being inundated daily with news about this pandemic as it develops and trying to make sense of the information and how it impacts on our daily lives and livelihoods. Now a few months into this we are starting to hear glimmers of a revival in the Travel and Tourism sectors with some countries beginning to prepare for their summer seasons.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste” ~ Winston Churchill
WFTGA is an Association whose members are Associations. The challenges that lie ahead for all of us will include aspects like membership models, constitutions, the various Associations’ purpose, the way we communicate, the business model etc.
The future of Associations/professional bodies during this crisis not only lie with technology but with its people. The key to balancing historical value with future trends is ‘relevance’. Relevance is determined by the role members want the association to play in their personal and professional lives. In other words, we need to address the potential ‘reinvention of the Association wheel’.
Professionals, like ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association), are working hard at finding solutions to the new and unprecedented challenges that face associations. And while the small business and free-lance sectors are among those affected severely by this crisis, we congratulate some of our member associations in succeeding with their governments for financial support for the Tourist Guiding sector, many others have a long way to go. As always WFTGA is at any Tourist Guide Associations' disposal to assist within our constitutional limits.
Association leaders now have a more complex responsibility than ever before. They should stay on top of the latest developments in the relevant profession or industry so they can be the first to advise its members on how to prepare and pivot. Our WFTGA Town Hall meeting will address this a little further. The proposed outline of discussions and invitations will be resent to Heads/Leaders of our Association members. Please note that this meeting has been rescheduled to a future date in May.
While some countries have made it clear they plan to open for tourism in the summer (N hemisphere), others will only be permitted to open their doors in the new year. Domestic tourism has been earmarked as the key focus for many countries because of the restrictions on international travel.
As Tourist Guides, we are having to go back to basics, perhaps pulling on our memories of our first few years of guiding. We have to consider rebuilding our personal brands, adapting our guiding skills for more intimate groups, look at using technology, encourage social distancing while on tour and most of all, learn to work collaboratively with others to ensure our sector, our knowledge, our skills are not lost during this downturn. We urge you to look at opportunities that could arise from this global crisis and come up with a battle plan to deal with the impact. Expertise, history and knowledge are things we fear may be lost as many guides may potentially leave this hard-hit sector.
The WFTGA EXBO and the 2021 Convention hosts are currently busy with bench marking exercises, best practice research, scenario and viability planning for our Convention. Using the insights gained, we will work together to find a way forward to adapt our convention and meeting needs in order to accommodate our hosts expectations, our industry priorities and our societal and membership pressures. Please expect a convention-related survey to follow. We can not express the importance of your participation in the survey for our planning purposes.
Over recent weeks I have had the pleasure to speak with colleagues and members and it was clear that everyone is missing interactions, face to face contact and general camaraderie. Our industry and sector are ones which rely on personal and physical interaction and this will be irreplaceable. For now, though, let us stay in touch online using platforms such as zoom and skype, although old school methods such as phone calls are most welcome.
In conclusion, we would like to ask of all Tourist Guides to please be sure of the accuracy of information on hand prior to sharing. We as an organisation encourage all to adhere to the best practice as presented directly from their official government channels, as well as that of WHO (World Health Organisation) www.who.int and UNWTO (World Tourism Organisation) www.unwto.org
At a time when all parameters have changed and our foundations are shaken to the core, we need to rely on each other in driving this sector forward. We work in a dynamic and inspiring sector and look forward to the day when we can emerge stronger and unified. At WFTGA we will continue to strive to share and promote our messages and do our utmost to ensure our voices are heard. The EXBO continue to endeavour to dedicate their time and support this organisation and its members during these challenging times. Our official statement to industry will be shared directly with our Association member Heads/Leaders.
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the TIME; they just have the HEART.” ~ Elizabeth Andrew
Tourist Guides play a large role in the revenue stream and the value chain that is tourism; let us keep reminding the world. It is apt currently to re-look at the words of our adopted WFTGA anthem, ‘We are the World’
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day, just you and me
Acknowledgement - We are the World / Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie