A Chinese tour guide's struggle during the COVID-19 outbreak
By Liu Yang, Zhao Jing
"I wish that the coronavirus pandemic will be over soon, and then I will guide tours for people from all over the world to enjoy the history of Beijing," Mu Xin told CGTN in an interview.
She is a veteran tour guide who's been in the business for 17 years, taking people on tours around Beijing, Japan, South Korea, and other Southeast Asian countries. However, since the COVID-19 outbreak, travel and tourism came to a halt. Many in these industries have had to find ways to support themselves.
Mu and her husband have been without work for two months. Both of them are tour guides, struggling to find ways to support their family of three. Mu started to sell products she bought for herself and her family in the past few years.
"They are all new and never used before. But someone might need them, so I sell them on WeChat," Mu said. She also sells fruits online but the income is incomparable to what she used to earn as a tour guide. Still, it's something.
"Making money is now realistic. Seventeen years ago, when I just started the career, I had no family burden, but now I need to take care of my family, children, and my older parents," Mu said.
Seventeen years ago they encountered SARS, and now face the coronavirus outbreak, but now they have a different mindset.
"To put it bluntly, I need to earn money to support my family. My husband is also a tour guide. Both of us are busy searching for ways to earn money for our families," Mu said.
Unemployment is a harsh reality for Mu and her family. Many across China remain fearful of the coronavirus, despite 30 percent of China's top scenic attractions reopening. Many travel agencies haven't resumed operations.
"Selling things online makes money, but it's nothing compared to the tour guide job, but at least I can do something on my own," Mu added.
Recently, she started livestreaming tours around scenic spots on different apps. "The livestreaming tour helps me rediscover the joy of being a tour guide again. I feel like I've just come back to work. This is a new horizon, because I had never thought of this way before. I suddenly wanted to use this way to tell history in a livestream, just like tourism, to see the world in a different way," Mu said.
Mu said her true passion still lies in guiding tours for travelers from all over the world. Telling stories of Beijing's history, and showing the world the changes of China.
"Although it is the first time for me to interact with fans in this way in the past two months, I still like the travel industry very much. Although the current pandemic has caused us temporarily unemployment, I haven't thought about changing my career," Mu said, expressing hope the travel business will thrive again. But in the meantime she'll explore more of her potential to overcome the current challenges.