Health and safety – Tour operators

Tourism HR
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The COVID-19 pandemic means that, more than ever before, tourism businesses need to have the health and safety of their customers – and their employees – at the forefront of their minds as they re-start operations. A national protocol for Canada has yet to be agreed upon, but best practice is already well established. Tour operators need to be thinking about operational and staff preparedness, delivering a safe experience and rebuilding trust and confidence.

Operational and staff preparedness

Ensure you have:

  • Obtained any licences required locally
  • Developed checklists for infection prevention, cleaning and disinfection
  • Implemented protocols and guidelines for staff health
  • Adjusted workspace layout to promote physical distancing and limit staff in common areas
  • Implemented protocols to minimize physical contact
  • Made personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks available to staff
  • Integrated technologies to allow for contactless payment if possible
  • Worked with suppliers and partners to ensure they follow health and hygiene protocols
  • Established COVID-19 contingency plan in collaboration with suppliers and partners in the event that new cases emerge – see for example section 10 in this document, which gives examples of appropriate contingency procedures for tour operators
  • Introduced appropriate cleanliness best practices approved by expert bodies
  • Explored different options for operations such as advanced tickets, timed entries or smaller groups
  • Provided staff with all necessary training and information regarding infection control and physical contact

Delivering a safe experience

Ensure you have:

  • Worked with your suppliers to understand what additional measures have been introduced
  • Selected appropriate disinfecting products approved by health authorities
  • Issued new guidance to cleaning teams focusing on increased cleaning frequency and high-frequency touch points
  • Made approved disinfecting products, e.g. hand sanitizer, available to guests at sanitation stations 
  • Introduced allocated seating plans with no rotation and appropriate seat spacing – some venues are adopting the ‘checkerboard’ system
  • Provided trash cans with liner bags and regular disposal
  • Implemented guest health checks and testing where required by local legislation
  • Limited physical contact and standing in line where possible – there is some useful advice here on how to maintain physical distancing when managing customer lines
  • Made masks available to guests where required by local authorities
  • Developed online/contactless check-in and check-out tools and procedures where possible
  • Explored the potential for staggered timing of access to venues. You may want to consider specific appointment slots for customers or allocating entrance times by last name. This may require you to change your customer messaging regarding the time your customers will need to safely enter and leave the venue.
  • Established that partner restaurants follow likeminded health, sanitation, disinfection, hygiene and food safety protocols

Rebuilding trust & confidence

Ensure you have:

  • Provided clear, consistent and up-to-date communication to customers on new health and hygiene protocols both digitally (emails, texts) and physically (signage)
  • Shared guest guidelines both ahead of trip (for instance, together with a booking confirmation email) and upon commencement of trip (for instance, via a reminder SMS) including on wearing of face masks, practising hand hygiene and avoiding physical contact, and had guests acknowledge them
  • Informed guests about support available if questions or concerns arise – here is an example of the sort of measures that one tour operator has put in place and is briefing its guests about, including self-drive options, flexible dining and measures to ensure social distancing on tour buses
  • Trained staff to answer questions and resolve challenges, including the detection of new cases and guest non-compliance
  • Explored collaboration with insurance companies to offer traveller insurance covering COVID-19 and assistance with emergency repatriation or medical care if necessary. For example, TUI in the UK is collaborating with insurer Axa to offer COVID-19 coverage with packages booked with them during 2020, including medical repatriation, vacation guarantee and medical assistance. 
  • Promoted contact tracing apps if required by local legislation, and put in procedures to collect client information as required by local legislation to facilitate contact tracing

For more information, visit: https://wttc.org/COVID-19/Safe-Travels-Global-Protocols-Stamp

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