Local tour guides ready for Covid tourism

23 September 2020 | Tourism

When Covid-19 struck Namibia in March this year, the local tourism industry came to a complete standstill.
Fast forward a few months and as stringent regulations were partly lifted, local tourists started to trickle some life into the hard-hit industry. Unfortunately many tourism staff members are still without jobs – one of which includes the tour guides.
In May 2020, the Tourist Guides’ Association of Namibia (TAN) developed a training programme in a bid to cope with the Covid-19 situation once tourists can return to Namibia.
A sub-committee of the TAN executive committee together with partners started in-house training, and soon non-members, lodge guides, conservancy guides, lodge managers and staff, operators and their guides and staff, as well as drivers joined the training courses.
Edgar Naudé (TAN Exco – Training Sub-committee co-ordinator), Emiliano Benolich, Lloyd Ulrich, Orlando Haraseb and Rolf Heinrich (TAN chairman) developed, adjusted, organised and presented Covid-19 training courses at Palmwag Lodge, King Nehale Lodge, Etosha Safari Lodge, Namushasha Lodge, Zambezi Mubala Camp, Anib Lodge and Canyon Lodge.
Another eight courses were presented in Swakopmund and nine in Windhoek.
During the closure of the 9th course held in Windhoek on 10 and 11 September, the first international flight touched down at the reopened Hosea Kutako International Airport, bringing the first tourists after the six-month lockdown.

Understanding
Nobody spends as much time with tourists during their visit to Namibia as a guide does. It is therefore important that every guide in the country understands the dangers of Covid-19, knows which precautionary measures should be taken to minimise any infection and how to protect oneself and others.
Guides will have to know how to handle a positive case, need to know what to do immediately to isolate a person on tour and how and where to test the entire group if such a scenario should occur. However, it is more important to prevent such a situation and therefore things have changed drastically.
Guides need more time to clean and sanitise their vehicles and equipment, need to change the visitors’ behaviour compared to the time before COVID-19, and have to adapt to entertain the guests while wearing a mask.
While circumstances during a trip have changed, the beauty and the wide open spaces of Namibia have not.
For TAN members the course is offered free of charge and costs only N$150 for printing and certification costs, while non-members pay N$650.00. Half of the 120 TAN members have already attended the course and requests from various companies have reached TAN to train their drivers, some of whom are not in the tourism industry.
All guides who successfully pass the training course are issued with a certificate.
Anyone interested in the course, can contact TAN at [email protected]

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