While Covid-19 was raging through Europe, all battlefield tour guides saw their business go down. In March 2020, my own business (Guesthouse and Battle of the Bulge Tours) was closed for months. During that time, I spoke a lot with friends who are tour guides in Europe. They all had the same trouble and the same concerns. Some companies went bankrupt, others just stopped. The battle tour market came under high pressure.
Of course, we were convinced the bad situation would end one day.
I have been working with Myra Miller, of St. Louis, Missouri, for a few years. She researches documents, maps, and other materials from the National Archives. Obtaining these documents was a great help for us who were researching World War II events. Unfortunately, the National Archives closed its doors indefinitely due to the pandemic. So, Myra was prevented from providing research support.
During a nice walk in the area where I live in Grandmenil, Belgium, I came up with an idea. I have contacts with a great bunch of tour guides, I know people who are very good in organizing, and I have plenty of contacts in the tourism sector. What a great idea it would be to bring this all together and combine it in one program.
And that is how this whole plan started. Within days, these outstanding individuals and I had Zoom meetings, tour plans unfolded, and a website developed.
Our tour guides designed their tours, delivered photos, researched nice restaurants, hotels, and places to visit. We wanted to set up an excellent tour guide company, and we also wanted to take our clients to local specialties like chocolate shops, breweries, vineyards, etc.
From day one we knew we wanted to limit tours to small groups. Myra Miller had previously led many Americans on small tours to Europe. From both of our experiences, we learned that we could give much more personal attention to our clients if the numbers are limited. Even more important, with a small bus we can go to places that are difficult to reach with a big coach.
So, our vision centered around personalized attention, excellent local tour guides, professional hosts, cozy hotels and guesthouses, and fabulous places rich in World War II history. This whole Covid-19 situation had suddenly turned into a great, positive plan. We were all so excited!
Of course, we realize you cannot book a tour yet, borders are still closed, and traveling is prohibited. On the other hand, vaccines are being rolled out and we wanted to be the first group ready to welcome anxious travelers.
As a team, we hope and believe we can start doing our very special tours around the summer or autumn of 2021. You can subscribe to our newsletter, check out the tours, and contact us with questions.
On behalf of the whole team, I wish you a great New Year! And, of course, we hope to see you in Europe on one of our Footsteps Battlefield Tours.
With best regards,
Bob Konings, Director
Footsteps Battlefield Tours