I love the variety that life as a tourist guide brings to my life. It’s not just about the high season when I’m out and about with holidaymakers visiting Northern England, but also during the quieter winter months. Far from going into hibernation, we Blue Badge Guides take the opportunity to carry out recces, familiarise ourselves with unknown attractions and places, or learn something new that enhances our guiding skills.
I have just returned from a three-day familiarisation visit for Indian tour operators from New Delhi – a brilliant opportunity to find out more of what to expect of tour groups from India and also an insight into their priorities when visiting the UK. I certainly feel that I’ve learned a lot about Indian culture and what Indians appreciate when visiting our country and I’d like to share this with our blog readers, hospitality providers and anyone working in the visitor economy.
- Indians love to party: they like night clubs and club hopping and really seem to come alive at night.
- They are looking for experiences and enjoy exploring.
- When Indians think about sport, the first thing that comes to their minds is cricket and the second is Manchester United – worth considering with beautiful village cricket fields around Cumbria such as Threlkeld.
- India is famous for its tea, but Indians are more likely to drink cappuccino or hot chocolate when abroad. The guests that I met seemed to favour one before their midday meal. They also enjoy beer or cola, as well as rum, whisky and other spirits
- Many are vegetarian – and for Indians that doesn’t necessarily include egg – so it is worth being familiar with some of the excellent vegetarian (and even vegan) cafes and restaurants across Cumbria. Cockermouth, Kendal and Ambleside have several to choose from, pizza places can be good and Upfront Gallery north of Penrith is excellent too. Don’t be surprised if your guests bring along hot pepper sauce and chilli flakes to add spice.
- Even those Indians that aren’t vegetarian are unlikely to eat pork or beef BUT the cartoon character, Peppa Pig is as popular in India as it is in the UK!
- Visitors from India are very knowledgeable about our history and love to make connections with familiar names.
- The most useful Hindi phrases for a tourist guide are Chalo chalo (Let’s go) or Jaldi Chalo (Let’s go quickly!)
- Indians enjoy shopping and favourite shops for men include Zara and Uniqlo because their clothes tend to fit their physique well.
- But don’t think that the references to clubbing and shopping mean that visitors don’t appreciate the countryside too – the Lake District is one of India’s top romantic destinations.
My guests came from a city and will, of course, have a different outlook and culture from countryside dwellers – and every group is a different mix of interests. With my newly gained awareness, I can’t wait to welcome my next guests from India. I hope that you’ve enjoyed sharing my insights from a tourist guide perspective, and please let me know if you’ve other hints and tips from your own experiences.