The Price of Tours
Following on from yesterday’s piece about the enthusiasm of tour guides, I thought I’d continue on the subject by pointing out how expensive some of them had become. It seems to me that the prices have jumped in the last few years as tour operators, cruise companies or whatever have taken advantage of our willingness to have trips packaged for us rather than to do some of the work ourselves.
Take walks for example. There are lots of companies that offer night time walks around cities and charge up to £10 for it. Taking you via ghostly haunts or in the footsteps of someone famous you could do this yourself with notes from a guidebook or the internet. In Venice, you can take a tour to Murano, the renowned glass blowing island for about €42 (say £35) which includes the trip, a tour of a glass blowing factory and a tour guide. Or you could do it yourself. A boat (vaporetto) ticket costs about £6 each way unless you have a day ticket and the glass blowers will willingly let you watch them for nothing in the hope that you will but a souvenir. In Cairo, a tour to see a carpet making factory will cost you from £10-£25 with a tour guide. Go yourself and it is free. Really what you are paying for is a guide who just tells you some facts.
Take a half day tour in Cairns in North Queensland, Australia for example. It can be $A65. (say £38) You get picked up from your hotel, driven (with a driver commentary) around the town for 5 hours seeing four or five sites. That’s a busy afternoon but for £38? And only two of the places charge entrance fees. But the company is successful so other people obviously don’t find it pricey. Or they think the convenience of having it all packaged for you is worth the cost.
It used to be that you paid for a tour because it would link a number of different places together. The cost of that plus the transport would work out at a slight discount to buying all the items together. That doesn’t seem to be the case any longer. You can package the combination cheaper yourself but without the benefit of the guide. Sometimes the guide is the bus driver so the tour arranger has saved a salary and makes more money. Whatever the appeal, the numbers of tours grow and the costs are pretty similar. And all seem higher than they use to be.