9 – TOUR GUIDING IN COVID-19 ERA; A PILOT CASE STUDY IN SYROS ISLAND (PDF)
Georgaki Polyxeni, Chatzigrigoriou Pavlos, Nikolakopoulou Vasiliki, Chatzigrigoriou Eleni
As one of the essential variables of mass tourism, tour guiding suffered a significant hit in the context of the COVID-19 conjuncture. The pandemic revealed pathologies of the field spanning over decades, highlighting at the same time an essential structural issue: the tour guiding has never been treated as a methodological tool-object for the documentation and the evaluation of the “oral management” of the cultural reserve, and therefore as part of a more extensive interdisciplinary discussion. In a broader context, the dynamics that are inherent in guided tours, as a vigorous activity inextricably linked to cultural and tourist development, especially in our country, have not yet been highlighted to anticipated extents. The causes are many and varied. What is worth noting is the opportunity of guided tours to improve its tools and dynamics in the context of a situation that seems to threaten it -as a practice- dramatically. Although the process of designing tourist packages is usually limited to commercial terms, the need for an interdisciplinary approach to the guiding practice remains more urgent than ever. Given that mass travel is threatened – perhaps for the first time in its history – with extinction, how could one imagine the “next day” of the tour guiding, the tour guide and the tourism itself, in terms of demand and supply? What ideas, actions, tools, and methods can be used in this situation, for the visitor’s interest to remain alive, but also refuelled continuously, for their destinations and narratives? This text introduces a new action that aims at maintaining, optimising, and evolving the tour guide as a primary tool for stimulating the visitor. With the help of technology, a new version of the touring process is proposed. Its key element is the presence of the tour guide, as a moderator of the experience, which is shared live on a digital platform. The experience is enriched with actions and events (interviews, music, videos, etc.), which are integrated as an organic part of it, in a single narrative. The island of Syros is proposed as a place for pilot implementation of the action (case study), for which a route narrative has already been designed, however, the possibilities of planning and implementation are unlimited.