Thursday, 4 June 2020

What Has it Been Like Being a Tour Operator in the Loire Valley During the Covid19 Crisis?

The Covid19 crisis has hit the French tourist industry very hard. As small independent tour operators, we have not worked since March, and don't expect to for the rest of this year. It's a bitter pill to swallow, because our bookings were already well up on the previous year and we looked all set for a great year meeting all sorts of interesting and engaged travellers. But it was not to be. The chateaux and restaurants were all ordered to close in mid-March, and all of April, May and June's tours were cancelled (and those in the second half of March). Even after the lockdown eased, it is still not practical for us to work. Our clients are English speakers, mostly American, and France's borders remain closed to people who are not European residents. Guides are not allowed inside the chateaux, masks must be worn everywhere, restaurants must adjust to a new way of operating and so must we. At this point we don't know if we can deliver our tours still booked for the rest of the year (for a start, our clients may simply not be able to get to us, even if we can get to the chateaux now).

Luckily we have been well supported by the French government, who have been providing easy to access monthly income support since March, and we understand this will continue as necessary until the end of the year. Wisely, the government has decided that it doesn't want businesses to cease operating altogether, just temporarily, and in order to facilitate that they are funding a minimum income for a million small businesses like ours. Also luckily, in our particular case, we are completely debt free, and thus in a stronger position to ride out the downturn than some of our friends and colleagues.

Loire Valley Time Travel team.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

We hope that you will be spending your time planning your travel, and that you will consider booking one of our unique and personalised chauffeured tours sometime in the not too distant future. You can be sure that you will be very welcome in the Loire Valley and you will not regret choosing a place so full of history, great food and wine, and friendly, knowlegeable, local guides to make sure you experience the best of this lovely area.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.