segunda-feira, abril 24, 2017

Free walking tour in Braga

Since I arrived in Braga as Eramus exchange’s student at University of Minho, I also liked to know more about the city, the place where are came to study. Then, I found out the “Minho Free Walking Tour” from the tourism office. 

The attractiveness of the tour for me was not the itinerary, but because of it is “Free”. What can we expect from a free tour?

The tour takes place from the meeting point at Arco da Porta Nova, at 11am. and 3pm. They offer tours everyday even raining, shining or snowing. This bold statement made me surely come to visit. Even if there was only my friend and I that joined the tour, the guide who held the green umbrella as the sign of the tour, also appreciates to run the program.
He started with orientation of the tour and led us back to the history through its ancient streets. The old churches and buildings are alive since we heard the informative and detailed stories. We learnt about the legends and myths of the places. During the walk, we were wondered by the way of living and enjoy the city through the local’s perspective. In that moment, I realized that what I was getting it worthy than a free tour.
The tour allows not just only visiting cathedrals, churches, city hall, parks and squares. The guide led us to visit the old café and a distinctive wine shop of the town. Those offered us to relate with the local people very well. Now, I did not feel like a tourist in this city anymore. I feel it as a friend and relative, instead.
The guide was knowledgeable about the history of the town and surrounding area, as well as the architecture. The tour was interesting with his friendship, sense of humors and enthusiasm. As he knew that we were students, he ended the tour with a few questions as the test for what we learnt from the tour. It was appreciate when he rewarded us after the answer, even it is not all correct.
As the tourist, it seems like we got many benefits from the tour, namely:
1) It is the way to explore a new city during our visit. We are able to access and see many things more than in other type of tour;
2) It is a great way to meet people and get into the unknown area. We can make small talk with others on the tour where many friendships can be made;
3) The itinerary is organized; so we do not have to plan anything. The whole route is planned out in an efficient way, which allows that we will not miss the main sights and still have time to learn about the city secrets which only the locals know;
4) Get advice from the local guides who are native of the city or have lived there for a period of time. They will offer us insider tips on places to visit, things to do and do not, and the best local foods. By the end of the tour, we will definitely be thinking like a local.
Definitely, the most attractive benefit is Free! This is the best value for money experience we could find on our travels. The tour guides are volunteers or freelancers who are passionate about sharing their city and they work for tips. There is no pressure to pay anything.
On the other hand, what does others stakeholder get benefit from this free tour?  Even the tour guide is a volunteer. He could get contribution from the trip based on tourist satisfaction by the end of the tour. For the destination management, the free tour could encourage tourist to visit the city as tourism promotion. It could support others stakeholder businesses, like hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops to retain their business during the low season. The tour is friendly for the environment as the walk will not cause the pollution like travel by motors do and the traffic is free.
This tourism activity is common in Europe but it is not usually offered in Asia. It could be a contribution for further study to determine the key success factors under a tourism destination and also structure a model for the free walking tour in Asia.

“Nothing in this world is free…just remember everything come with a price” (Gabriela Barnard, 2013).

Itsra Watjanasoontorn


[artigo de opinião produzido no âmbito da unidade curricular “Património Cultural e Políticas de Desenvolvimento Regional” do curso de Mestrado em Património Cultural, do ICS/UMinho]

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