Wish you were here! Tour guides from across the globe come together to create unforgettable online travel experience
An online platform founded to help Polish tour guides around the world keep working and to share their passion with travellers during pandemic travel restrictions is celebrating a year of success.
The network, ‘Tour Guides without Borders’ (Przewodnicy Bez Granic), which brings together 50 professional Polish tour guides from 24 countries, has grown quickly to attract a loyal group of 18, 000 followers since its launch in March 2020 and can boast a regular turn-out of 1,000 viewers for each online tour.
The idea of Barcelona-based Agata Sosnowska from Bydgoszcz, who has been a professional guide around Barcelona for the last 13 years, ‘Tour Guides without Borders’, offers tourists a unique programme of events which run every day from Tuesday- Sunday with events offered by a different tour guide from a different city each week, including a free Wednesday evening Facebook Live stream.
As well as traditional online video tours around a city, the creative network also offers explorations of music, film, music and food from each location focused on that week.
Sosnowska told TFN: “When the pandemic arrived and the lockdowns came, I found myself out of a job almost over-night and was looking for alternative ways to do what I love.
“I contacted four Polish tour guide friends and the idea of ‘Tour Guides Without Borders’ came to life and we quickly opened it to all Polish tour guides from around the world.
“We have two main aims: helping tour guides out of work due to the pandemic and sharing our passion, because above all, we love talking about the places where we live and sharing them with others, and suddenly, we couldn’t do that.
“We wanted to find an alternative way to bring the world closer to travellers who had been grounded by travel restrictions and the comments we have had from people, have shown us that people really needed what we are offering.”
‘Tour Guides without Borders” offers a mixture of free and paid for events, mainly in Polish, but on request, also in English.
Their Sunday morning group tours, which are offered for a symbolic fee of 12 PLN are particularly popular, the largest being a tour of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, which attracted 1500 participants. Upcoming Sunday morning tours are planned for Kraków, Berlin and Saloniki.
Other paid-for elements offered to visitors include a culinary eBook of 80 recipes created by 28 guides from 15 countries, paid for quizzes, more in depth video tours and the possibility of booking a private live tour with a specific guide.
Sosnowska added: “It has been really rewarding to see people’s reaction to what we do and we are constantly thinking of new ideas and projects, for example we are thinking of doing something for children.
“And we aren’t just here for the pandemic. We definitely plan to keep going even after things return to normal.
“We think there is a market for an alternative, virtual form of sight-seeing, as not everyone is able to travel.
“Even after things re-open, our network will continue to do online tours as well as acting as a place where people can come to find a professional face-to-face Polish tour guide in cities they plan to visit around the world.”