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Safety and health protocols related to traveling in the “new normal” are in the works.
Last week, The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) released its plans for a new set of global travel guidelines, titled “Traveling in the New Normal.” And today, the U.S. Travel Association shared its own set of safety and hygiene protocols, called “Travel in the New Normal.”
The document, which was submitted to state governors and the White House, was completed in partnership with medical professionals and industry associations and was backed by guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the White House.
"After Sept. 11, security became the new normal,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel Association, on a press call shortly after the document was released. “Now, the new normal will be health and safety."
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The guidelines’ aims are to “restore consumers’ confidence in the travel process” and “allow travel to safely resume as states and municipalities relax physical distancing guidance,” according to a statement released by U.S. Travel Association.
The organization will not advise travel until it is safe, Dow says, noting that these guidelines were created in preparation for that moment. As the COVID-19 risk evolves, it’s possible that the organization’s recommendations will evolve, as well.
The document instructs travel businesses to adopt and implement enhanced sanitation procedures; to install touchless solutions when practical; to promote health screening measures for employees; and to isolate workers with COVID-19 symptoms.
There are also suggestions for travel businesses to create procedures aligned with CDC guidance should an employee test positive for COVID-19, along with how to follow best practices in food and beverage service to promote the health and well-being of employees and customers.
The U.S. Travel guidelines place the onus on individual travel companies to decide what’s best for their businesses, but recommends the consideration of measures such as reinforcing hand hygiene, using personal protective equipment, installing physical barriers, encouraging physical distancing and limiting a staff’s physical contact with clients.
To help make sense of health suggestions, travel businesses — especially hotels — will likely appoint medical professionals to advise them on best practices, says Dow.
During the call, Dow shared that the protocols were created in reaction to consumer polls about trust in travel.In U.S. Travel’s research, cautious would-be travelers said they would be most likely to believe that it was safe to travel if they heard it from the following three entities, in unison: the travel industry, medical professionals and the government.
“If you hear the same trusted believable message from all three, [trust] goes up to 60%,” Dow said. “This is why we all have to be in this together.”
Dow also speculated that tradeshows will be the last form of travel to return, but that they are crucial for business.
“The large gatherings will be the last to come back, but they will have to come back smartly,” he said. “This is how business is done in America. You can be sure there will be a lot of effort in looking at how to open up tradeshows."
Dow also said that travelers have a personal responsibility to follow guidelines rooted in science.
Dr. Michael D. Parkinson, the past president of the American College of Preventive Medicine — and another speaker on the press call — expressed his faith in the travel industry to do right by consumers. He commended the travel industry for its work in fostering health and wellness pre-pandemic via fitness spaces, no-smoking areas and nutritious dining options.
“It starts with all of us and how we live our lives — not just (by) wearing masks,” said Parkinson, who served as an advisor on the document. “We have to be healthier as people.”
The DetailsU.S. Travel Associationwww.ustravel.org