A mere 4 percent of tourist guides in Europe expect their work to pick up in 2022 while roughly 75 percent expect no more than half of their pre-pandemic, according to a survey released by the European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (FEG) on occasion of International Tourist Guide Day this week.
For the third year in a row, the annual survey carried out across 27 FEG member associations examines the impact of Covid-19 on the qualified tourist guide profession in 2021.
– last year there were fewer cancellations in comparison to 2020
– the majority of guides said that 2019 and 2020 cancellations were not carried forward to 2021 and that engagements were lost
– more than half (58 percent) said their work had decreased by over 75 percent in comparison to pre-Covid 2019
– in 2021 more than 35 percent of those polled felt confident that guiding work would recover to at least half of 2019 levels
– 61 percent said they received some financial help from their governments, other organizations, or even from loans, relatives, and spouses
– more than half said they weren’t able to access any financial support or received less than 40 percent of their 2019 earnings. Only 10 percent reported that there will be further financial support in 2022
– in 2021, most of the work was on the domestic market with 28 percent saying their jobs came from other countries
– the majority of guides surveyed said lack of support had a big impact on their living standard: 78 percent said guiding was their main profession and 87 percent said they were self-employed
– half of the guides said they were are looking into other kinds of employment while 49 percent have already started a different job
Overall, FEG results indicate a downward trend in employment expectations with professionals citing uncertainty, loss of income and support as the main reasons.
FEG warns that a decline in tourist guide activity will impact the industry. Indicatively, in the EU tourism accounts for 9.5 percent of GDP and cultural tourism – where tourist guides play a central role – accounts for 40 percent of all European tourism.
Citing the survey findings, FEG is calling on European, regional and national authorities to reconsider their policies in relation to tourism.
“As we look forward to a more positive tourism experience in 2022, a coordinated and holistic approach is necessary. Support of local qualified tourist guides by promoting their services, engaging with the regional and national guiding associations, and curbing of unauthorized practitioners – who are often part of the ‘sharing economy’ market – will restore in tourist guides some much-needed confidence. This way, qualified tourist guides can continue to provide their expert services as the ambassadors of destinations and contribute to the rapid recovery of the vital European tourism industry,” said FEG in its statement.