Is it time to ring fence tour groups?

Jun 25th, 2008, 05:10 AM
  #1  
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Is it time to ring fence tour groups?

A recent visit to The Hermitage Museum has prompted this thought. It's not the first time I've had it, but it seems that things are getting worse, hence this post.

Is it time, perhaps, that the great museums of the world thought about dividing their hours into sessions for tour groups and sessions for others. Sort of like Venice restricting visitor numbers.

Otherwise as an individual person what you get is a bun fight. Here comes a group of 20, squeezing through the doorway, making it impossible for anyone else to get through; here they are in front of a "must see"; out come of the cameras; everyone snaps away. The "leader" is making some kind of spiel but most of them can't hear it. Hey, they've gone. But here comes another right behind. One after another, after another. Tour group after tour group.

These people haven't put any effort into getting there; they haven't queued for at least an hour for a ticket, and yet they take the place over.

I imagine the Russian people in the ticket queue with me must feel the same way!

Let the groups visit with other groups and go away, and then let the "others" enjoy.

What say you all?

afterall is offline  
Jun 25th, 2008, 05:24 AM
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We visited the Hermitage in 2006 and had the same experience with a very rude Russian guide guiding a group of senior Americans. On an earlier occasion in Cairo, at the museum, but this time it was us who were the one taking advantage of the other tourists with a very "skillful" A&K guide who managed to cut across about 1,000 other people in line.

I think we should not forget that these museums and national attractions are for the benefit of the local first and the tourist last so we should just take the good with the bad!
Hanuman is offline  
Jun 25th, 2008, 05:49 AM
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That idea has occurred to me too! At major sites I seem to have to keep dodging between the groups. Could we also limit their time on the street, I wonder? Getting run over on the street by worried tour members who would be completely lost without their group is as big an annoyance as trying to block out the noise in museums. I wouldn't restrict individuals who were willing to put up with the groups, but I'd be happy to advocate for limited hours for groups (and I do travel with a group on occasion).
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 25th, 2008, 01:42 PM
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I will bite my tongue!!! Ring fence is a great idea.....but it wouldn't be tour groups that I would enclose....taking the place over???? Who could that be? Loud and...... well,you know
Now there's a thought!!!!!!!!

Do your homework, plan your trips, make a real effort........No problem.

I don't do tour groups as a rule, in fact, not my thing at all.......but any means of travel is valid and each to there own. So stop being so elitist and selfish. For many people, group travel is the only option.

It's quite possible to visit The Hermitage Museum without encountering the hoards..but THANKFULLY, it's not akin to buying a big mac. You just need to work a little.

After all that,I didn't bite my tongue....did I?

Oh well!!
LeighTravelClub is offline  
Jun 26th, 2008, 06:40 AM
  #5  
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LTC,

Would you like to tell me how my proposal is: "elitist and selfish"?

I am not proposing that groups be banned, just that they get their own reserved hours at places like the Hermitage. It wouldn't make any difference to THEM - lone travellers don't impact on THEIR enjoyment. It's only the other way around.

Are you saying you're perfectly happy with the status quo?

And yes, I am aware that you can dodge the hordes by visiting the rooms that the groups don't go to (which are wonderful) but the point, I think, is still valid.

By the paucity of interest in my proposal I deduce that fodorites generally travel in tour groups.

True?



afterall is offline  
Jun 26th, 2008, 07:52 AM
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afterall, you must not read a lot of posts here if you think most of us travel via tourn group! Indeed, when there are questions about which tours to use, we don't have much to say except that it's easy to do on your own.

Hang around and read what Fodorites have to say and you'll have a more accurate idea of how we travel.

And I expect most of us have figured out how to dodge tour groups at major sites.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 05:13 AM
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Kathie, thank you for your response, but that still misses the point.

Would you or would you not be in favour of a policy whereby major museums reserved a couple of hours a day for visitors who were not part of a tour group.

Or are you happy with the status quo?

And another question for Leigh - could you, or someone else, kindly explain what exactly is meant by:

"For many people, group travel is the only option.
afterall is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 05:13 AM
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Kathie, thank you for your response, but that still misses the point.

Would you or would you not be in favour of a policy whereby major museums reserved a couple of hours a day for visitors who were not part of a tour group.

Or are you happy with the status quo?

And another question for Leigh - could you, or someone else, kindly explain what exactly is meant by:

"For many people, group travel is the only option."

WHY?

afterall is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 07:46 AM
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afterall, I think it's not a bad idea for museums to have some specific times for tour groups and/or specific times for individuals. Indeed, I've seen places that do have such a system.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 11:25 AM
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I am not sure that it is so easy to have separate hours for individuals and groups. I know that Orangerie has (or at least had an year ago) a limitation like this, but it was for individuals; in the morning only the groups can visit, while in afternoon it was open for everybody. Is this what you want? I suppose that not.

I do not travel (generally speaking) with tours, but, Afterall, I did not like the tone in your message#39;The leader is making some kind of spiel but most of them can't hear it. ..These people haven't put any effort into getting there; they haven't queued for at least an hour for a ticket"
Maybe some people travel with a group and pay for this because they want not to make an effort, except the financial effort.

And you know, they receive some useful info from the guide, like this that Saint Petersburg is in Europe and not in Asia !!
Marighita is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 12:36 PM
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I agree - build the fence. I was at the Hermitage when those gps roared thru like a super-highway. At one point I was in that Hallway at the back modelled on the Vatican one - one of the marvels of all the world in all time - incredible. A few tours blasted in, stopped almost momentarily and zoomed off basically missing the whole thing. It is absurd.
anatoleschadenfreude is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 02:01 PM
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afterall,

you are proposing a form of apartheid!

'Let the plebs visit, but don't let them invade my time!!!!'

I'm an independent traveller, therefore I should have quality time!!!
Isn't that what you are saying? I have had just as many 'problems' from small family visitors even couples, being inconsiderate to those around them as I have had from tour groups.
The trick has nothing to do with visiting different rooms!!!!! It's a little deeper than that. But it's very much about effort.

As I said previously, I am not a fan of group travel. In fact after a recent visit to China with group I have vowed to never do it again. BUT,for many it's the preferred method, and for some, the only option.

QUOTE: Let the groups visit with other groups and go away, and then let the "others" enjoy.

Sorry,I can't go with that!!

I repeat...your proposal is "elitist and selfish".
In fact some may find it offensive.
LeighTravelClub is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 02:10 PM
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Just re-read your post Marighita. You saved the best for last!
LeighTravelClub is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 03:25 PM
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Anyone want to hazard a guess on AskOksana's position on this issue?

They could always open the museums at midnight and only allow tour groups to visit until 10:00 a.m..
Gpanda is offline  
Jun 28th, 2008, 09:06 PM
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I was thinking more 9.30 or 10.00am to 3pm for everybody. Thereafter no groups.

As you say, Leigh, for some it is the PREFERRED way to travel (your caps) - so that hardly qualifies as an answer to the question why it is that "for some people group travel is the only way". Clearly it isn't the only way; it's a matter of choice. And it can't surely be a matter of money as often a tour is more expensive than making your own arrangements.

As for apartheid - that already happens - ie groups have a separate entrance and don't have to queue. Individuals line up.

Isn't that also "selfish and elitist"?
afterall is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 05:16 AM
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i am opposed i think...i have never had any problems with this tour reality....i say first come, first served...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 06:40 AM
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We visited the Hermitage on a Sunday as part of a tour group and had an hour virtually to ourselves until it was opened to the general public.

If you believe that people who use tour groups “haven't put any effort into getting there” you are completely wrong. For many of them it is the one trip of their lifetime and the amount of homework they do is formidable.

We take group tours for a number of reasons, including; they are much cheaper than travelling independently, (which is why they are the only option for many people) they let you concentrate on what you are experiencing and leave the mundane arrangements to someone else and they provide an excellent overview of a country or area so that we can decide which areas we wish to revisit. A case in point was a 32 day tour of the British Isles that we did in 1999 we followed that up with four weeks of independent travel to areas that had really appealed to us.

As for “The "leader" is making some kind of spiel but most of them can't hear it.” I have never had a problem hearing a guide and in recent years headsets or “paddles” have made listening even easier.

Tour groups also have their moans about independent travellers, a major one being those who “attach” themselves to the group to have the benefit of the Guide that the group has paid for and then slink off without even a tip.

This Board does cater primarily to independent travellers; if you want to read about group travels try the BBs on the Insight or Trafalgar web sites.
Tangata is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 09:45 AM
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The early bird catches the worm.....the rest get stuck with the tour groups

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 10:05 AM
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Well put, ht.

Or come in later, as guide books sometimes say: "after the tour groups have gone home".

But if the groups are coming and going to that museum all day, then when would be a time that they should all go together - and still fit? Sounds like they are pretty much at capacity. If they do get to the point where they restrict visitors, turning people away, then it would be the individuals, not tour groups, who would be restricted. Tour groups make life easier on the museum.

I think that what you ought to do is buy a tour group ticket and then go around by yourself. Stay there and don't leave to get back on the bus.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 01:24 PM
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This is an interesting discussion. I can see it both ways - and have experienced both sides. I've been to the Hermitage (as part of a group), and was very glad not to have been an individual traveler. Yes, we got in an hour before the general public. And there were SO many tour groups there that it would have been really difficult for the individual (once they arrived) to have avoided them. At the Kremlin, it was even worse - it would have been difficult for an individual to even to have seen some of the best exhibits AT ALL, because the tour groups literally came one right behind the other. I think it would have been nice if the museum had at least an hour each day just for individuals, like they have an hour each morning just for tour groups. Tour groups, in fact, get preferential treatment by having an hour before the museum opens. Why not an hour for individuals? Wouldn't that be more equal?
I've also been an individual traveler (more often than not) and would have loved the opportunity to visit a museum for an hour WITHOUT the tour groups there.
It's NOT first come first serve - pretty much everywhere I've traveled, the groups have a separate entrance and get right in, even when there's a long line of individuals.
All that said... I love individual travel... and have also enjoyed group travel. They're different. Both have their advantages. As long as I get to travel, I'm pretty happy!
althom1122 is offline  

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