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The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has released guidelines specific to trekking, rafting and biking trips, as well as overarching guidelines for adventure travel operators.
Released in association with Cleveland Clinic, ATTA’s COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines also take into account guidance from World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and industry experts such as Switzerland Tourism, JTB Research & Consulting, G Adventures, REI Adventure Travel and Backroads.
The guidelines were created with the goal of providing adventure operators with a safe and coordinated reopening strategy that manages risks and uncertainties related to the pandemic. According to ATTA, they are “structured around companies’ safety management systems, so changes in the company’s procedures can be revised and adapted as upcoming changes in pandemic risk levels and top-level recommendations are easier to implement.”
The guidelines clearly state that a total elimination of risk is not possible, and companies need to “embrace uncertainty, be informed and obtain appropriate client consent.”
The overarching adventure travel protocol — a 23-page document — covers similar ground to other industry guidelines in encouraging social distancing and transmission barriers; enhancing sanitization measures; and promoting health screenings. But it goes much further than that, offering in-depth checklists and frameworks for companies to aptly manage risk and consider all aspects of the trip, from destination selection to what to do in the event of a passenger falling ill.
Although the travel industry now has numerous guidelines, ATTA’s are perhaps among the most comprehensive and ethical.
For example, the protocols are one of the industry’s first to ask companies to “protect communities,” and instructs them to consider the impact of the group and trip on the community and its medical resources. Specifically, businesses are asked to analyze the chance of being a vector/bringing in COVID-19; and if a such a place is already vulnerable due to poor medical facilities.
In addition to the overarching document, specific guidelines for trekking, cycling and rafting are comprehensive and focus on the unique nature of each activity.
For example, cycling guidelines dictate that each bicyclist should “choose equipment with minimum handling, and care for their own equipment for the duration of the tour,” and that cyclists — who may not be able to breathe easily in a mask while biking — should “use face coverings when in situations with a higher risk of transmission, such as transportation, close-proximity instruction or assistance or during riding breaks.”
Trekking guidelines assert that hiking is a relatively safe activity because hikers typically go at their own pace and don’t have much shared gear. The document considers that trekkers often socialize with people outside their immediate group; as a result, it recommends that companies “prepare for interaction with people external to your group … and to remember that they might not know, or be following, the same health and safety standards that you require of your group.”
Rafting guidelines state that unlike cycling and hiking, rafting is not an individual sport and must be done in a small group.
“While on the one hand, commercial rafting is not done by one individual (like trekking or cycling) and requires a small group and a guide to be in proximity, on the other hand it is done in small groups (each raft), and people are being splashed and washed often in a fully ventilated space,” according to the document.
Some strategies recommended for rafting include “consider reducing the exposure to risk by maintaining the same crews in boats throughout the trip” (if the group is conducted of strangers), and “if stopping in eddies, for lunch, or breaks, consider eddy and beach size and spacing to promote distancing.”
ATTA and Cleveland Clinic will host a webinar on June 30 at 7:30 P.D.T. to further discuss the overarching and specific activity guidelines.
The DetailsAdventure Travel Trade Associationwww.adventuretravel.biz/covid19guidelines