KOCHI: Speaking fluent Italian, Antony Varghese, an experienced professional licensed tour guide, used to assist travellers from various European countries to navigate the exotic and culturally important places in South India. Those were the happy days. Similar was the story of Chris Joseph and Rojin V M who are well-versed in conversing in German and French respectively.
However, the pandemic brought everything to a standstill. With no options left and the resumption of international tourists’ arrival may take time, these tour guides have turned to their skill in speaking foreign languages to earn a living. Antony, Chris and Rojin have today started online classes teaching Italian, German and French, respectively.
“Tourism is not happening anytime soon and it will be unwise to wait for something to happen on that score,” said Antony. So, he decided to tap into his experience as a teacher and launched online classes teaching Italian.
According to Antony, who has been a professional licensed tour guide for the past 18 years, the classes are yet to begin. “But it will not be the same as being a tour guide,” he said. “I used to earn a minimum of Rs 5,000 per day during the season and used to have work for around 100 to 110 days,” said Antony who lives at Thekkady. Rojin V M has already begun classes.
“I already have trained six to seven batches,” he said. But can one compare the revenue from the classes with that from being a tour guide? He said no. “For online classes, I charge Rs 7,500 per student and the courses are for two months (50 hours) and each batch has eight to 10 students,” he said.
According to Chris Joseph, who launched a German course, the students who approach the class are the ones interested in going to Germany for higher studies or jobs. “If one wants to get a job or be able to study in Germany, a sound knowledge of German is a must,” said Chris who became a language guide after realising its potential. All of them are freelance guides who are called on by travel companies during the season and hence get good remuneration.