Een van onze gewaardeerde collega’s in Sri Lanka is onze gids/chauffeur Iresh Sandaruwan. We vroegen hem wat hij zo leuk vindt aan zijn vak, hoe het met hem gaat sinds de corona-crisis en nog veel meer. Lees hier het hele interview.
What made you join the tourism industry and when did you first start?
It was in 2011 when I first started as a chauffeur guide. Before that I did a 9-5 desk job as an accounts assistant which was quite boring for me. First of all, I did the Chauffeur Guide course, got my license and started off right away. What made me join this industry was of course my passion to travel and to meet new people. Getting paid to do this is awesome when you think of it. This also allows me to continue a lot of my hobbies on the job as well.
What are your hobbies and what do you like to do at home when you are not on a tour?
I actually have a lot of hobbies and like to keep myself busy and active. I really like photography, Cooking, Singing and playing the guitar. When I am at home, sometimes I play cricket with my friends and also visit the village temple. Being a chauffeur guide has allowed me to further follow my passion in photography. For example, in 2019 I put together some of the images in my collection which were captured at different national parks of the country and compiled a coffee table book on Wild Elephants of Sri Lanka.
How have you coped with the Covid-19 Situation which affected the Tourism Industry globally?
Yes, it has been even tougher for Sri Lanka since the Easter Sunday attacks in April 2019 and just when we were starting to recover Covid-19 happened. Initially it was quite depressing but at one point I realized that there is nothing you could fix by just worrying. So I started a small F&B business where we cooked western style dishes at home and delivered around my hometown area.
If there’s one thing that travelers who come to Sri Lanka should see what would that be?
I would say it’s the way of life of our people. I believe that Places should be seen through its “People”. So, while you visit key sites and cities, it is important to see how the people in each area spend their day to day life.
What are the things that you do to make things more special for your guests?
Well, it’s actually about doing little things that makes it special, not really rocket science. Sometimes I carry my guitar with me on tour and sing a couple of local songs for the guests and teach them a song or two. I capture photos of all my guests while on tour (of course with their permission) and at the end of the tour prepare a collage of photos and gift that as a souvenir. And of course there could be so many other spontaneous little things.
What are your future aspirations?
Right now I have written the exam to be a National Guide (who can guide groups as well) and awaiting results at the moment. Whatever I do, I want to do it right and make sure all my guests depart with a happy face and great memories. There’s one quote that I love (and also have printed on my vehicle) – “The Song is ended but the Melody lingers on”. One day when I hang my boots, I want others to tell that he did a great job with a lot of passion.