Spare a thought for tour guides

We have all been locked down in one way or another, depending on “how essential” we are or where we live. But thanks to the internet, we can still tour the world at a fraction of the cost of real travel and without having to stand in line for tickets or share our space with fellow tourists. With virtual tourism you can explore nature, museums, cities and landmarks you have always dreamt of visiting.

Cape Town Free Walking Tours is not against the wonders given us by the fourth revolution and the emergence of the tech available to us now. In fact, more and more of the most popular tourist sites in the world are accessible thanks to AR and VR (do not ask). To get virtually on the road, here’s a link to The Guardian’s 10 best online virtual tours: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/apr/06/10-best-virtual-tours-of-worlds-natural-wonders-everest-patagonia-grand-canyon-yosemite

But we do feel that nothing beats the real experience and virtual tourism is a great marketing tool to help you choose your next holiday spot. Let’s face it: it is not fair to treat virtual reality like the destination itself. You will also need a lot of gadgets to make your virtual experience feel like the real thing. And thus far, sounds and sights that are so part of an area and that can spontaneously enhance your sense of adventure, has not yet been perfected by technology. It is safe to say that most travellers have a deeper need to fulfil than to just see Table Mountain through a virtual app.

One of the reasons why the real deal is still the best option: tour guides. And it comes down to one word: communication. Communication is central to human life. It is pervasive, essential, and complex. Studies have shown that face-to-face interaction with tourists is an effective means by which guides can educate and inform them. Sounds very academic, but we will keep it simple. Someone famous once said: “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” When our guides, for example, take you to the spot where Nelson Mandela appeared in public for the first time, it’s hard to ignore the emotions of honesty and humbleness, and the stories of gratitude their eyes tell.

As effective as communication – the food for the soul: conversation. There are always comments and questions when a group of people walk a strange city. And it takes just one guide to open a good conversation. As they say: one good conversation can shift the direction of change forever. Which brings us to memory: the stories are there. Tour guides, mostly, have memories like elephants. Good guides are also vendors of facts. These are wonderful additions to conversations and to add to your memory bank.

Then there is spontaneity – life does not happen according to a script. Routes change, people from all walks of life cross our paths, our curiosity is constantly piqued by new experiences and information. Good guides sense and know this – the best moments happen when they are unplanned. Add to this local experience, enthusiasm, passion and humour. If you are in the company of a tour guide with these qualities, your trip will be upgraded from mundane to exceptional. It’s easy to recite facts, read about history and memorise the timeline of significant historical events, but if a tour guide shares these with passion and a hint of humour, you’re likely to feel your life has been enhanced by experiences to tell your own stories. Meet our guides: https://freewalkingtourscapetown.co.za.solutionetics.a2hosted.com/#guides Who would not want to explore a city with these interesting characters?