The ‘quirky’ way to travel during restrictions
FOR seasoned travellers and tour guides like Toni Bowler, coronavirus world travel bans have hit hard.
The day before lockdown hit, Ms Bowler had just returned from a trip around Sri Lanka, enjoyed Christmas in Georgia in Europe before that, trips to Armenia and Turkey last year, a motorhome tour of Spain and Portugal preceded by tours of Vietnam and Japan.
As a tour guide on cruise boats, Stradbroke Island and Surfers Paradise, work had dried up overnight.
But a "quirky" idea from a New Zealand tour company is creating a platform for guests to book one-to-one live-streaming tours with guides like the Kirra local to scratch the travel itch and keep guides getting paid.
Guests can go on 45-minute virtual tours, using smartphones to connect with guides live with Cooee, which was launched last month by tour operator Aspiring Adventures and now has 30 guides in 16 locations around the world.
Ms Bowler is currently the only Australian guide on the platform and is showcasing the Gold Coast to would-be international travellers.
"We don't have any work at the moment, we can't even get out of Queensland and can only go 150km from our home, which is hard as a tour guide as you can imagine," she said.
Ms Bowler uses Zoom to connect with people from all over the world.
"With my tour, I walk from Kirra to Snapper Rocks, telling people about the connection with the iconic eagle landmark and the American Army and the ship wreck around at Coolangatta," she said.
"I tell them about surfing in the area, Greenmount point and then come around to snapper rocks and Rainbow bay and discuss the Roxy Pro and the things that happen in the area.
"We've had guides do walking tours of Dunedin while some Scottish travellers were watching online with a glass of red wine.
"This will help encourage travellers to come to the Coast once this is over."
Steve Wilson, co-founder of Aspiring Adventures, said the concept had "taken on a life of its own".
"Where guides are stuck at home, it's not even a tour in the traditional sense - it's a whole new thing, and something we're very excited about," he said.
"The shared experience of the pandemic, and both guide and guest being at home, seem to create a shortcut to human connection.
"All over the world people are struggling and isolated, and at the same time, they have access to a new kind of social connection, through technology."
Cooee costs $20 to get a personal connection to a tour guide in countries such as Peru, Costa Rica, Canada, Cambodia, Argentina, Fiji, Guatemala, India, Nepal, Paraguay, Lima and more.
For more info, visit www.cooee.co.
Originally published as The 'quirky' way to travel during restrictions