NEW ORLEANS, La. – Instead of streets filled with festival goers and travelers from around the world, our city is facing a parade of cancellations. However, the staff at ‘New Orleans Secrets – Tours & Adventures to Unlock New Orleans,’ has found a way to work from home.
One of the company’s three owners, Angela Monroe, explains, “We’re trying to still share the story of New Orleans both for people who had trips planned that were canceled unexpectedly, and those just looking for new things to do and learn about.”
Guides are telling stories from their couches, and posting them online. Also new via the internet: Facebook Live lectures, virtual tours, and a shop selling tour-themed bundles. The bundles feature everything from cooking to Voodoo. Access the company’s Facebook page here.
For the company’s nine guides and three owners (who are also guides), there’s also a virtual tip jar, which has raised close to $1,000 so far.
“We’re really concerned about when unemployment ends. Come July that ends, but what about August, September and October?” says Monroe, who points out that April, May and June are prime time for tourism; this is when guides make the most income to balance out the slow season.
She says many people don’t realize that guiding is a full-time career for a lot of people in New Orleans.
Plus, she notes that tour guides have been excluded from restaurant and hotel relief efforts.
Fellow owner/guide Mark Aspiazu says the pandemic has created a depressing atmosphere of boarded up buildings in places where you would normally hear laughter and questions from visitors from around the world.
He especially misses bringing tourists to Antoine’s Restaurant, part of the French Quarter History & Cocktail Tour.
Financial concerns aside, sharing their passion for the city in person-to-person fashion is impossible to replace.
“It’s something that we miss very, very much. It’s just so quiet. It’s really sad that we don’t see people walking around and having a good time; you just see all the boarded-up windows,” says Aspiazu.
“But we’re resilient, we’ll make it back.”