Professional guides should be part of any tourism industry aid to recover from Covid-19

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As a result of the spread of Covid-19, many self-employed tourism workers are feeling the brunt of this pandemic and the measures to counter it - as an essential part of one of the most affected sectors. 

The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates, as of March 13th 2020, that up to 50 million travel and tourism jobs could be at risk due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Small and medium sized businesses (which make up around 80% of the tourism sector) are expected to be particularly impacted. The effect on self-employed seasonal professional workers like tour guides should not be overlooked.

Without question, public health in the face of this crisis must be the primary concern

But as the tourism sector, like no other economic activity with social impact, is based on interaction amongst people, it will be heavily affected by border restrictions, travel bans, and social distancing.

Now is the time for international cooperation, solidarity and shared responsibility.

We are calling on governments and ministries, tourism organisations, and international bodies to implement measures to protect frontline workers in the tourism industry. That in order to weather the storm of this catastrophe, it will be essential to invest in maintaining and reinvigorating the tourism market.

If the tourism industry is going to continue, it will need sustained investment and financial support - not for weeks, or months, but for years ahead.

To many, guiding may be perceived as a hobby occupation or secondary source of income - rather than a profession and calling that hundreds of thousands of people across the globe have dedicated themselves to.

Our association (the Berlin Guides Association) represents professional guides in the German capital, Berlin - who act as ambassadors to the city, dedicated storytellers, historians, and chroniclers of the intricacies of Germany’s past, present, and future.

We stand alongside our fellow guides around the world who are struggling in the face of this catastrophe and whose livelihoods and contributions to the prosperity of their destinations and experience of all visitors stands in threat.

As tourism plays such an intrinsic role in the world economy, it is necessary that it will also be included as a priority in future recovery efforts.

Exploration demands freedom of movement and solidarity - and when the frontiers open again we should guarantee that there are still guides there to show the way.