Posted: 05.08.20 at 19:47 by The Editor
A Conwy businesswoman has reinvented her tour-guide service after the pandemic wiped out international tourism, leaving her with no customers.
Amanda Whitehead, who lives on Conwy Morfa, says her international tour-guide business was closed overnight when the pandemic hit.
Her clientele of mostly American tourists began cancelling UK visits for the peak summer season and even into 2021.
With her old business decimated, Amanda, who previously offered tours across Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland, set up Conwy Tours.
Amanda explained her new business is geared towards UK visitors who are keen to maintain social distance. As a qualified blue badge tour guide and mountain leader, Amanda said she has invested in radio receivers that customers can use with disposable earpieces, enabling communication without people herding close together.
“For many, many years I’ve been a tour manger with international, mainly American, groups, showing the delights of Wales to visitors,” she said.
“But very shortly after lockdown, my email started pinging with cancellations, and even cancellations for 2021 from the specialist American groups.
“I looked at the market, and I thought about British families who would be looking for something to do after lockdown where they could maintain social distancing. So I thought I would start my own business doing town tours of Conwy in my hometown.
“I spent lockdown creating my Welsh lady costume, and I knew people would want a service with social distancing because the traditional idea of tour guides getting everybody to gather up would no longer work. I invested quite a lot of money into machines where I can talk into a microphone and people can hear the commentary.”
Amanda’s tour includes a walk around the town, taking in Conwy’s famous castle, smallest house and Plas Mawr. But she explained it’s sometimes the smaller details and lesser-known facts that people find most interesting.
“I’ve had people who said they’ve been coming here for 20 years, and I’ve shown them a lot of little things they didn’t know,” she said.
“The whole point of having a live tour guide is to show people the little things that we all walk past. Everybody knows we have a castle and a smallest house, but they don’t know some of the little stories and the intricacies and what it is like living here.”
She added: “Conwy has everything with the history, the quayside and the food. The town is ideal for tourists”
Conwy Nub News was invited to Amanda’s tour together with Aberconwy MP Robin Millar who is looking at ways North Wales tourism can adapt post lockdown. The MP said many could learn from Amanda.
“Amanda is a good example of a small business that has had to adjust to the pandemic and adjust to a loss of the market and cater instead for a domestic market from Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, people coming to Conwy who are still interested in the history,” he said.
“And I think there’s a lesson for us here. We are going to have to adjust to how we deal with the pandemic. Tourism is still going to be vitally important to us. Heritage, culture and the environment we have here are always going to be great selling points. I think it’s about learning to reinvent ourselves, learning to address new markets and a willingness to invest in that.”
For more information visit the Conwy Tours website