We all know that the world has been hard hit by COVID-19, and the tourist industry, has been devastated. Defining “tourism” is difficult because it incorporates so many industries, including transport, lodging, attractions, travel companies, airlines, restaurants and many more. Roughly 10% of the worlds jobs are in tourism. According to Statistica.com, globally, travel and tourism directly contributed approximately 2.9 trillion U.S. dollars to GDP in 2019. In the same year, the United States’ travel and tourism industry directly contributed the highest amount to global GDP, with a total of 580.7 billion U.S. dollars. American travelers are big spenders.
For the last 22 years of my life, I have had the pleasure of being a tour guide for a small and wonderful company, Rick Steve’s Europe. I started working for Rick in 1999, and as soon as I began, I knew that sharing my love for my adopted country of Italy and teaching people about the cultural differences, and the art and history that is so abundant here was my life’s calling.
So what’s a guide to do when the industry comes to a crashing halt in the face of a pandemic? I was just finishing a Venice, Florence, Rome tour when the first major wave of cases hit Italy at the end of February. My first concern was getting my group home safely. Once at home a sense of disbelief sunk in together with the thought of, “OK, I now have time to work on all those home projects that have been put off for years, hopefully this won’t last long.” Next came the realization that life was not going to get back to normal anytime soon.
For those of us who work primarily with Americans in Europe, and also guides who work in the United States with Europeans, the best case scenario will be starting again in spring of 2021. With that realization, grief and anxiety hit, and it struck in the middle of lock down, when here in Italy, we could not stray more than 600 feet from home unless going to work or out for essentials. Throughout this process I kept in touch with good friends and colleagues and we started talking, working through our angst, fear for our futures and the lack of income which is not unique to our industry. We also started dreaming, thinking about the many ideas we have had over the years for projects we could do in our field, writing, creating or rethinking our own small tours. Guides are curious by nature and we need stimulation so many of us started meeting weekly via Zoom and an idea came to life. We are calling this newly planted seed, The Guide Collective, or GC for short. The idea behind this collective is to give us an outlet for our creativity, and to cross pollinate the many small businesses we already run in addition to being guides. To do this we have created a new online travel magazine. With no further ado, allow me to introduce you to the GC plus a few other friends you should know. Take a look at our new online magazine and if you like what you see, please share the love! https://www.guide-collective.com/
Throughout my years as a guide, I have had the honor of meeting many wonderful people. These friends can help you travel, dream, learn and even decorate your home…
A professional tour guide, travel writer, artist and occasional architect. Beginning her adventures as a kid in 1985, Sarah has been exploring regularly since the travel bug bit her while studying in Italy in 1995. With a BA in architecture from the University of Washington, she worked as an architect before abandoning the drafting board for the allure of the open road. Check out all the fun stuff she offers on her website: https://adventureswithsarah.net/
A true nomad, Charlie has visited, worked or studied in 33 countries. With Celtic blood and a love of culture and languages, she continues this love through hiking, guiding and writing. Charlie is available for UK and European tours, personalized travel poetry, Global travel planning sessions as well as classes in well-being for healthy, happy travels. www.travelwithcharlierawson.com
Born in England, Julian Brown made his home in Paris over thirty years ago. He began
leading tours around Europe in the early 1980s whilst studying French and Spanish at
university and now spends much of each year conducting museum visits and historical
walking tours in the French capital. He also leads tours through the French provinces, and in
Italy, Spain and Southeast Asia. He holds a PhD on ancient Vietnamese art history.
Books and classical music compete with travel, art and history as his main
Born and raised in France, Patrick has been a tour guide for 25 years. Now working mainly with Rick Steves’ and leading his own hiking tours in France, he lives in Brittany where he renovates houses during the low season. His love of walking and discovering have driven him to offer private tours to small groups; hiking in Brittany, the Loire Valley, Provence or the Pyrenees.
Growing up, Benjamin Curtis always wanted to be James Bond. Turns out that it’s not so easy to get a license to kill, so he settled for being an international man of mystery. He knows 15 languages, has lived in six different countries, worked throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin
America, and served as an advisor to the British government. Most fun of all, though, were the many years he spent as a professor in Seattle. These days he lives in Prague, teaching, guiding tours, and writing books on global politics and history. He blogs at www.benjamincurtis.me
A veteran tour guide, Reid lives in Estes Park CO and operates Imprint Tours – specializing in non-European destinations: Southeast Asia, Asia, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, East and Southern Africa, Guatemala, Peru, and Patagonia. Check out his blog and tours: https://imprinttours.com/
Originally from Napa, California, Anna Savino has lived in the Piedmont region in Italy for the last 15 years. Her love for the region and especially the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco has led to a career in guiding food and wine tours. Wine is in her blood! She specializes in organizing small group tours and always seeks out the most personal and unique gastronomic experiences for visitors in the Langhe. Find her at: www.italianna.com & www.barolowineclub.com
Born and raised in Málaga, Andalucía, land of Picasso and Antonio Banderas. Jorge has worked as a tour guide for the last 24 years. He organizes small private tours for families and groups of friends in Spain and Portugal. check out his website: travelingwithjorge.wordpress.com
Inspired by his yearning to look beyond the iron curtain, Holger Zimmer has traveled extensively in Central and Eastern Europe since the late 1980s. He is always happy to go the extra mile to find the hidden gems. Besides working as a tour guide throughout Europe since 2006, Holger is also an established broadcast-journalist, who enjoys telling meaningful stories about culture and society on the radio. His background in theatre is an asset for his various undertakings. He is deeply in love with European history and culture and works regularly for Rick Steves and other distinct tour companies.