Tour guides get by in wake of COVID-19 hinh anh 1Ninh Kieu wharf of Can Tho city before the COVID-19 outbreak (Photo: VietnamPlus)


Hanoi (VNA) – As tourism activities have come to a complete halt and many firms gone bankrupt, a large number of tour guides end up losing their jobs. They have to do other jobs to earn a living.

In mid-March, Thanh Trung still travelled to India and showed a team of a society on Mother Goddess Worship conservation around the country. The team came to India to attend an event on sacred music.

However, things turned upside down after the trip. The tourism sector of Vietnam and the world becomes frozen in a domino effect.

As Trung’s company had to close, his new day begins not with putting on his familiar backpack to travel to a new place as usual, but with the crying of his three-month-old son. Changing diapers, preparing milk, looking after his son and doing laundry, among others, have become daily work of the 36-year-old tour guide in the face of COVID-19.

Not only Trung but dozens of thousands of other tour guides across the country have been in distress.

Tighten the purse string, spend more time taking care of family

In February, although the situation was intense in China, Trung still flaunted photos of him taking holidaymakers abroad.

On March 15, he “checked-in” Taj Hotel & Convention Centre in Panjim of India’s Goa state.

“Goodbye Goa with wonderful memories of breezy and sunny coastal roads, ancient temples and fortresses of grand victories. I will miss colourful houses and mouth-watering dishes dearly,” he wrote.

He added that the trip contributes to popularising Mother Goddess worshipping in Vietnam to international friends and enabled Vietnamese songs to be sung in such a sacred land.

Tour guides get by in wake of COVID-19 hinh anh 2Trung shows Vietnamese artisans around India during a trip to promote Vietnamese culture in March.

The trip ran from March 10 to 18 and Trung was tasked with taking seven members of the team (15 others cancelled the trip over COVID-19 concern) to India for sight-seeing and joining in an event on sacred music in which they performed "chau van" (spiritual music) in Mother Goddess worshipping.

Right after such joyous time, he and his colleagues had to stay home because all trips to the Republic of Korea, India and Europe were suspended.

Even though the company provided monthly salary, Trung’s colleagues all switched to online sales. Some offered specialties and others sold imports as airlines still carried goods.

For his part, although he was out of job, Trung had to pay interests to the bank. He hoped that the disease would be brought under control by summer so that life will return to and tour guides like him can continue their job.

The sound of a baby crying could sometimes be heard during the telephone interview with Trung.

He said that now he has tightened the string of his purse and “exercised” regularly by taking care of his baby. Now he could spend time with his family making up for his days away from home because of his job.

Tour guides get by in wake of COVID-19 hinh anh 3Trung the tour guide has become a house-husband.

When tour guides change job

Tran Tuan, a 29-year-old Hanoi resident, was not as fortunate as Trung. He was among the 80 percent of the company’s staff who were laid off due to losses in revenues since the start of the year. The remainder had to take turns working to receive basic salary.

“Prior to the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays, we pinned hope on other tourism markets such as the RoK, Japan and Europe. However, the epidemic was everywhere over the world and triggered the closure of international air routes. Trips were cancelled and guides lost their job in a large quantity,” Tuan said.

Letting out a sigh, he said his colleagues had become drivers of Grab (a ride-hailing app) and sold handmade cooking online. Even the head of his company had to be a vitamin supplement salesperson to make ends meet.

“I have never ever imagined of such a time during which the tourism sector has to struggle like this,” he said.

Tour guides get by in wake of COVID-19 hinh anh 4

Director of a travel agent in Hanoi said that the company’s overseas and domestic trips have been cancelled until September and July, respectively.

However, workers in this sector said they will return to their job once the pandemic is put under control and voiced their belief that “clear skies will come after every pouring rain”./.