Travel And Tour World: What are the necessary precautions United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) have taken to fight against this deadly pandemic? What are the safety protocols United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) maintaining to reopen travel trade industry.
Terry Dale: Recognizing the complexity of tour products, United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) collaborated with its counterparts in Canada (Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) and Europe (European Tourism Association (ETOA)) to develop a set of health and sanitization guidelines specifically for our tour operator members called “TOURCARE” Guidelines for Tour Operators. The guidelines establish recommended procedures for tour operators to provide protection for travellers against the transmission of COVID-19, and include recommendations for staff, suppliers, and the traveling public.
TOUR CARE GUIDELINES FOR TOUR OPERATORS
STAFF TRAINING AND SANITIZATION:
- Promote frequent hand washing among staff and passengers.
Provide hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol to be available for passengers and staff at all possible times.
- Recommend the use of face masks and gloves to staff when interacting with passengers where appropriate.
- Promote the use of face masks to passengers.
- Exercise physical distancing, where viable and in line with the latest official guidance or requirements, including motor coaches and other modes of transportation.
- Train all staff that may interact with passengers to ensure they are familiar and compliant with these guidelines and those set out by the public health authorities mentioned above.
- Comply with applicable government and health authority requirements as well as these guidelines.
- Employ touchless solutions when possible – and reduce touch points at operational
levels, such as ticketing, payments, identification, check-in, etc.
- Where possible, use face masks and gloves when interacting with passengers.
- Sanitize high-touch areas frequently using products and disinfectants approved by
the EPA and local health authorities for effectiveness against COVID-19.
PASSENGER COMMUNICATION AND RESPONSIBILITY:
- Passengers may be required to declare prior to departure that if they are
exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive or have been in
contact with a COVID-19 patient within 14 days of departure.
- Passengers will be advised of and askedto adhere to recommended hygiene
procedures, such as traveling with and wearing a face mask and/or gloves when asked to do so, or limiting physical contact wherever possible.
- Prior to departure, passengers may be asked to complete a pre-boarding questionnaire or declaration confirming they have familiarized themselves with health and safety guidelines and requirements related to their tour.
TOUR OPERATORS WILL ENDEAVOR TO:
- Have personal protection equipment, such as face masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes available for passengers, as needed, or advise passengers where such items may be required for their tour.
- Provide oversight of and ensure compliance with the TOURCARE Guidelines for Tour Operators related to staff, suppliers, and passengers.
- Provide a downloadable leaflet to all passengers describing these guidelines and recommendations or direct passengers to where such information is available.
- Communicate the health and sanitization procedures passengers will encounter throughout their trip as far as reasonably possible.
Travel And Tour World: Do you expect any tourism boom in United States in post COVID-19 time?
Terry Dale: According to a recent survey of Active Members, half (52%) of the tour operator respondents anticipate United States operations restarting between September and October 2020. Respondents also showed new optimism for an October 2020 return to business, with the response jumping to 15%, compared to 0% reported in the May survey.
Travel And Tour World: How are you working with hotel and airlines to reopen tourism business?
Terry Dale : United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) members are working together with partners on the ground to determine when each destination is ready to welcome travelers back. Making sure that the community will feel safe is a priority. These relationships will also be more important than ever as tour operators work with hotels, airlines, ground operators, museums and more to ensure the safety of their guests and that any new guidelines and health safety protocols are being met.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us about the losses you are right now facing due to COVID-19 outbreak.
Terry Dale : The travel and tourism industry is trending to be one of the hardest hit industries as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). The industry will be seeing the effects of this pandemic for months, if not years, to come. According to a U.S. Travel analysis, COVID-19 and the associated travel restrictions will result in an $809 billion hit on the United States economy and a loss of 4.6 million travel-related American jobs this year, nearly doubling the unemployment rate in the US. Additionally, total spending on travel in the United States, which includes transportation, lodging, retail, attractions, and restaurants, is expected to fall by $355 billion.
Travel And Tour World: Are you getting any aid from the government to boost travel and tourism industry?
Terry Dale : United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) has been closely monitoring COVID-19 aid, relief, and the security act. By gathering intelligence from Washington, DC on a daily basis, USTOA has shared resources to ensure that members are getting all the help they can.
Since March when a group of leaders from 10 travel and tourism associations convened in person and by phone in Washington, DC, collectively we’ve kept the pressure on to ensure our vast combined membership and the millions of jobs represented have a voice as further government relief is discussed.