We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

excursions local provider vs tour operators

Which Bentota hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Cardiff
posts: 6
reviews: 26
excursions local provider vs tour operators

Hi

Getting very excited now as we are off to Beruwela on the 29th

Ive read lots regarding the excursions and would like to do at least two or three,

can you offer opinions and views on using the "beach boys" versus the package firms for these trips

what are the strengths and or weaknesses of both?

any help would be great

thanks

sheila

Aluthgama, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Bentota, Beruwala, Sri Lanka
posts: 37,023
reviews: 7
1. Re: excursions local provider vs tour operators

Hi Sheila

"Beach boys"/drivers/guides will do the trips about 50-70% of the price you have to pay to your tour operator.

"Beach boys"/drivers/guides will tailor your trip to suit your requirements and they stop whereever you want. Tour operators have a fixed schedule with fixed stops.

Hans

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka
posts: 35,694
reviews: 144
2. Re: excursions local provider vs tour operators

Hi Sheila,

Agree and disagree with Hans. It depends quite a lot on the beach boy (and the tour operator) arrangements. The faq at

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g293961-c89412/Sri-La…

tries to balance the pros and cons...

All the best,

<Erik> & [Sandya]

Ahungalla, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka, Kalutara, Ahungalla
posts: 5,294
reviews: 9
3. Re: excursions local provider vs tour operators

Hi Sheila....

It's no secret on here of my deep disliking of the touts, or "beach boys" as they like to call themselves roaming the beaches and hanging around outside your hotel gates, make no mistake, they will hassle you and try to convince you to buy thier "wares", usually starting with a welcome such as "my friend" !

They will of course offer your day trips/excursions at a much cheaper cost than that of your tour rep, but you have to make sure that they also offer the same sort of guarantees too, for instance, a fully insured and roadworthy vehicle, and good standard of accomodation if staying out overnight too, as well of course a money back guarrantee should things not go well.

The touts, are in fact just that, they don't own thier own vehicles, but most probably thier distant cousins and the like do, i would suggest strongly that you ask around at your hotel BEFORE entering into any deals with these people, or better still wander around the town/village for a genuine tour operator, who would offer you some great bargains for trips, but will come with better terms and conditions than the "touts" would offer.

Have a safe and happy holiday, will be heading down there on 29th myself.

Regards

Dave

Aluthgama, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Bentota, Beruwala, Sri Lanka
posts: 37,023
reviews: 7
4. Re: excursions local provider vs tour operators

In fact some of your so-called "touts" are the owners of the vehicles trying to get some business. And some of the people "hanging around outside your hotel gates" are car/van drivers coming there on their bicycles because it's too expensive with the current petrol/diesel prices to bring the car/van. And not all will hassle you. Don't lump them all together. And why "ask around at your hotel BEFORE entering into any deals with these people"? Asking staff? or other guests? Are staff trustworthy? The "touts" could be their friends or family. Other guests? I think you read the recent review on Neptune Hotel.

Where do you "wander around the town/village for a genuine tour operator, who would offer you some great bargains for trips". They don't have shops or banners outside their houses in places where I come.

You usually recommend guides/drivers, and I could do the same. I know you don't profit from it, and neither would I. Of course we all have our favourites.

A good idea for a first time visitor to SL, is to ask around and compare product/prices, and don't forget to ask if entry fees are included (some places are very expensive for foreigners). Preferably outside a couple of different hotels, because the "beach boys", "touts" and guides/drivers only stay outside "their" hotel or on "their" part of the beach.

Hans

Ahungalla, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Sri Lanka, Kalutara, Ahungalla
posts: 5,294
reviews: 9
5. Re: excursions local provider vs tour operators

Hans...

I was NOT suggesting for one moment that guests should ask hotel staff for recommendations at all, far from it, as yes i do know that some of them are under the influence of touts, and that is a rather silly statement to be honest !, that influence sometimes comes with threats from touts too, and that i know from personal experience.

And my feelings AND disliking of touts is nothing to do with any reveiw from Neptune either,although i guess that that person now has same opinion as i have always had, i have always had the same opinion of touts down there since my first trip years ago, and nothing i can see will change that.

How many reviews have you read that finish, with likes/dislikes, the main dislike in many cases is indeed touts, beach sellers.

Yes, there are some places around that you can book tours from, not sure about where original poster is staying so cannot say for sure where, but there will be places, even in local shops,even the hotel's taxi drivers if you approach them privately, at least they will have roadworthy vehicles.

Yes, i do have trusted drivers that i use out there all the time, and i don't seem to remember mentioning that in my last reply?, and i never mention their names on here.

But, the whole point is, people should NOT take for granted what touts are telling them, they should ask around as well, among others GUESTS at thier hotels.

Regards as ever !

Dave

UK
posts: 2,323
6. Re: excursions local provider vs tour operators

Hi Harris,

Looks like you've opened a can of worms.

For someone who hasn't yet visited Lanka the whole scene must be confusing.

There are not just company drivers and beach boys.

There are many self employed, vehicle owner, driver guides and yes, some of them do operate from small offices or from their homes with signs in the garden to be seen from the street. So in many places you can just walk around the town and find tour companies or self employed operators.

Places like Negombo, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna etc . you can wander around , walk into these small offices, or knock the door of the homes and discuss a tour, prices, conditions, etc.

I''ve travelled with a few and watched many others at work and the best driver/guide I've seen by far , is a self employed guy, with an excellent air-con taxi van, amazing enclopedia like knowledge of everything lankan , perfect English , full tourist board license and he operates from his home with a board at the front wall.

So, how do you make up your mind,,, I'd say from recommendations of previous customers.

Be sure that the " previous customer " isn't a family member pretending to be a customer , collect info on a few driver/guides and then get several quotes.

A good operator will discuss with you what you want to see, where you want to go and the type of accomodation you require. Between you, decide on an itinery arrange the price and do a deal.

Many will try to take you to places like the spice gardens, wood carving factories, batik factories, stuff like that, but you're paying the bill so if you don't want any of them then state that up front. Personally, for a first tour I think it's not a bad thing to go along with as long as it's not too time consuming. There's no need to buy anything if you don't want to and I've enjoyed watching the batik workers showing their craft, the wood carvers amazing me with their skills and learning about the different timbers and wood dies etc, or the spice garden free tour showing me where and how all the spices, herbs abd different crops are grown, treated and used.

No need to buy from them if you don't want to.

I think a good driver/guide can make a tour very memorable and a bad one can completely ruin a holiday. Note ,, I use the term " driver/guide. Meaning they are acredited by the Ceylon Tourist Board and also drive the vehicle themselves.

Some guides turn up with a seperate driver and some drivers will just expect you to hire local guides everywhere.

Comes back to getting trustworthy recommendations from previous customers.

If you ask for info to be sent to you, I know that Dave, Erik, myself and other members such as Hans can offer contact info.

Not much time left though.

Rod.

Aluthgama, Sri Lanka
Destination Expert
for Bentota, Beruwala, Sri Lanka
posts: 37,023
reviews: 7
7. Re: excursions local provider vs tour operators

Many years ago I worked for Tjaereborg (now part of Thomas Cook Group PLC) and my 2 first visits to SL included a 7-day round-trip (visiting all the must-see sites) and 7-days on the beach, so I have some knowledge about how tour company trips are organized.

They also visit spice gardens, wood carving factories, batik factories etc., and yes, the tour company reps also take commisions from these places. In those days (and I believe it still is) the main part of tour company reps' salaries was commissions on selling excursions.

Rod wrote :"No need to buy from them if you don't want to" (spice gardens, wood carving factories, batik factories etc.). I tell you: DON'T buy anything from these places, they are ALL rip-offs, and prices include commission for driver/guide whether you go on a trip bought from tour company/hotel or you arrange it youself. Prices in local shops esp. spices are 25-30% of what you py at these places.

Hans

Cardiff
posts: 6
reviews: 26
8. Re: excursions local provider vs tour operators

Well what can I say but thanks you......... all of thre repleis have offered me shed loads of info and opinions to digest and consider, and like much in life it is apparent I did nt ask a black and white question.

I think Im just going to have to use some common sense and try not to get caught out.......dont mind paying for anything just want my family and I to be safe and enjoy

cheers

sheila

9. Re: excursions local provider vs tour operators

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 11:16 pm, October 02, 2009