India, a country many of us only can dream of visiting. The colors, the people, the spices, the temples.. What a perfect illusion. Now that the world is going through a massive crisis the tourism sector is being hit extra hard. We wanted to go straight to the source to understand how the indian tourism industry has been affected, also to find out if this is an industry worth exploring despite traveling being off the table at the moment?
We had a coffee with Ashwani Bhati, a former engineer turned tour guide who is currently sharing content on LinkedIn about how the indian tourism sector is being affected by all that is going on. Scroll down to see the full interview. If reading is more your jam, then keep reading.
Ashwani Bhati or king of the horses which is the meaning of his name in Sanskrit. He started working as an engineer and built cellphones for Samsung. He had it all, a good degree and a full time job at an international company. Though Ashwani was not pleased with his situation, he needed to something more. He was missing to interact with people and having more variation in his every day life. That is when he quite his job and went to Gandhi's ashram to volunteer. At the ashram he got to know an italian tour guide and learn about their job. Ashwani got so inspired and finally he knew what the next step in his life was going to be. He shortly went back to school to study his masters in tourism.
Now a days he is working as a tour guide in New Delhi, India and he is loving it.
We met Ashwani in the beginning of April 2020, when the pandemic had just hit India. We had to ask Ashwani how the current situation had affected his job. Fortunately Ashwani expressed it "I am workless but I am not jobless". The tourism industry is of course dependent on tourists coming into the country. But now that the boarders are closed and there is not much to do on the tourism market in India.
Ashwani is staying positive and seeing this sitaution as a "blessing in disguise". He mentions that one of his big interests is photography and now he has the opportunity to dedicate a lot of time to improve in that. He is also writing articles on tourism, reading books and recording videos. He sees this as a great opportunity to work on skills to get ahead. We will never get back this lost time so we might as well make the most of it.
Speaking about blessings. Are there any benefits that the indian tourism sector can take away from this crisis? Ashwani's theory is that the tourism industry will boom as soon as borders are open and we are allowed to travel again. Travelers will be sick and tired of being cramped up in their own country and even more eager to tick off boxes on their bucketlists.
How about domestic travel in India? Indian people most often travel domestically for religious purposes. Religious tourism have a big probability of increasing. Now indian people are not allowed to travel to tempels to worship, so as soon as the lockdown is over in India, religious tourism can become a source of income for the indian tourism sector. Is it still worth pursuing a career as a tour guide given the current situation?
Ashwani's answer is absolutely, it is not going to be like this forever. International travel is further away but before that we have domestic travel kicking in. And when quarantine is being phased out people will start moving around and the tourism sector will slowly start hiring people again.
What are Ashwani's top tips to someone thinking about exploring guiding as a career?
You need to be passionate about people. The work in itself might be monotomous but it is the people that make it awesome.
Have an understanding that being a tour guide is hard work.
Most jobs are seasonal which means you might need to get creative or do something else for a part of the year.
Check out the full interview with Ashwani here: