By AbdulMaalik Tailor,
In Halal tourism much has been written about hotels suitable for Halal travels and Halal food choices with some places receiving free advertising but rarely do we hear or see adverts about tour guides and their benefits.
Travelling to different destinations and planning your trip might give one the freedom to choose specific locations but at times there are advantages of having a tour guide. This may include sites visitors may not be familiar with or limited knowledge is available.
To summarise, here are some benefits of having a tour guide especially a Muslim one with you.
They have local knowledge:
Reputable tour guides would have undergone courses and training to become a professional tour guide and belong to a professional guiding association. Tour guides can provide in depth knowledge of the area’s history, culture and traditions. Some who may have a specialism e.g. Muslim heritage would be able to provide added value to the tour as opposed to usual selfie stops! Why stop just for a picture when one can also discover more about the site and the Muslim connections.
It’s known that Muslims travel to London, UK and enjoy take pictures with Big Ben and Houses of Parliament but imagine as we do on our Central London tour at this location explain who the first known Muslim was present there in 1867. Lord Stanley, a convert of Islam, is explained, his character and his contributions to different communities in Britain.
There are perhaps in some locations buildings that use to exist but would not appear in a mobile phone app for example the Al Hambra theatre that existed until 1930s in central London. Imagine this fabulous building that was Islamic inspired complete with domes, minarets and even the Islamic crescent. Alternatively, imagine a building that does exist but has hidden features that does not appear in a guide book or app for example the landmark Royal Pavilion on the South coast in Brighton.
A grand building complete with domes and, minarets, a building to some that could easily be mistaken to be in India or Malaysia. One such hidden feature of the Brighton Pavilion is the heights of the arches which were constructed to allow an elephant with its mahout on top to enter.
Now, imagine discovering these facts by a tour guide at the locations, I’m sure if one found out about the hidden sites and features this would intrigue and surprise you and undoubtly add value to your tour.
Using a local guide v one with you – Yes you may as a tour operator prefer to bring your own tour leader to liaise with different parties in the host country and they may point out various sites but this certainly doesn’t add value as being the same of having a local tour guide. A tour leader would be more of an escort than a guide.
The only time when a tour guide who is not a local one and may be suitable are the ones that have specialist knowledge for example the American connections and the Ottomans on a Turkey tour. It may be rare to find a local Turkish guide who may know about this but they may supplement information. Lastly, they are always there to offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have.
Saving you time and ease:
Tour guides are able to offer advice to save you planning your day around tourist sites which may be knowing your arrival and departure tube (metro) stations, nearest prayer place, local toilets or nearest location to buy a coffee, Halal Eateries or in rainy weather an umbrella! You don’t have to worry about what to see, how much time to spend in each location- having someone else make the planning decisions can make things simple and allow you to relax and enjoy your holiday more.
Dealing with problems:
The tour guide can also help you to ensure that shopkeepers, stall holders and taxi drivers will not con you. They act as a deterrent from random people like unwanted street entertainers, beggars or flower sellers. Once they realise you have someone who may be a familiar face or who speaks the language then there won’t be any hassle.
A friend for life:
It’s possible you may exchange your WhatsApp number with each other and therefore you may wish to contact them still after you have returned home maybe having some extra questions about the tour about the commentary provided or after passing on the tour guide’s number to your friends. There may be even times when the customer who has valued the tour and wishing to become a repeat customer and finds it far easy to communicate via WhatsApp.
Is it time for you’re to treat yourself to a tour guide?
AbdulMaalik Tailor is Britain’s first professionally qualified Muslim tour guide and founder of Muslim History Tours.
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