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Tourism: what's the new normal?

As everything progressively reopens, tourism professionals launch hygiene and social distancing programmes. WTTC creates global safety stamp to recognize safe travels protocols around the world.

World Travel & Tourism Council

The specially designed stamp will allow travelers to recognize governments and businesses around the world which have adopted health and hygiene global standardized protocols – so consumers can experience ‘Safe Travels’.

The landmark move by WTTC has also received the backing of the influential United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Eligible businesses such as hotels, restaurants, airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, outdoor shopping, transportation and airports, will be able to use the stamp once the health and hygiene protocols, outlined by WTTC, have been implemented. Destinations will also help to award the stamp of approval to local suppliers.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: "We are excited that Saudi Arabia, which is Chair of the G20 tourism group, as well as popular destinations such as Cancun, one biggest destinations in the world, Portugal, one of the fastest growing countries in Europe and the holiday cities of Barcelona and Seville, amongst others, are among the first destinations to back the stamp and implement global standard protocols to recover faster."

EarthCheck

Sustainability company EarthCheck has mobilized a global tourism taskforce to help the tourism and travel industry meet the health and hygiene challenges now demanded in a Covid-19 recovery.

The taskforce includes senior healthcare, hygiene, and business operators from some of the leading tourism companies in the world including Langham Hospitality Group in Hong Kong, Kempinski Hotels in Switzerland, Kerzner International in United Arab Emirates and Grupo Xcaret and Alltournative in Mexico.

Centara Complete Care Programme

Thai hospitality firm re-opens hotels and resorts with Centara Complete Care hygiene and social distancing programme.

Managed by Ecolab, its cleanliness reassurance program ewill utilize Aqueous Ozone or electrolite water spray (electro–static) sanitisation techniques. The process and operations are being overseen in partnership with SGS, an inspection, verification, testing and certification company. In addition, Centara has created new dedicated Hygiene Manager positions across the group, appointed to monitor, record and implement all changes.

"We have studied and reviewed in great detail and we are in no doubt that we are adhering to the absolute highest international standards of cleanliness, hygiene and safety for our guests," said Mr. Thirayuth Chirathivat, CEO, Centara Hotels & Resorts.

Among the rigorous changes is the elimination of self-service buffets at its restaurants, with live stations screened off from guest touch access, social distancing of 1.5 metres between tables, chairs, fitness equipment, function space and sun loungers, which are sanitised in-between guest usage, and increased frequency in sanitisation of all public areas such as lifts and kids’ clubs. There will be no in-room delivery of luggage or meals with all items instead left at the guest room door.

Spa and wellness facilities will allow single treatments only with no use of steam, saunas or Hammams for the time being. All treatment rooms will be sanitised in between guest usage. Sanitising gel and disposable face masks are to be placed in guest rooms

Other key changes include free health check-ups from on-site medical staff, a contactless check in and payment, as well as upgrading of teleconferencing capabilities for the meeting sector.

Ascott Cares

CapitaLand’s lodging business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott), launches ‘Ascott Cares’ to raise standards of cleanliness to continue to provide safe homes for guests

This programme covers nine commitments to enhance existing cleanliness protocols:

  1. Our Staff’s Work Environment
  2. Guest Safety
  3. Physical Distancing
  4. Housekeeping
  5. Apartments & Rooms
  6. Food & Beverage
  7. Shared Facilities
  8. Contactless & Paperless
  9. Our Vendors

"Ascott is reviewing every touchpoint within the living and workspaces of our apartments to tap on the work-from-home trend. We are also improving our digital solutions and looking at leveraging smarter technologies to provide value and safety to our guests. As global and domestic travel restrictions ease, we have also launched ‘Ascott Cares’ to reassure our guests and staff that we have stringent cleanliness and hygiene measures in place as we welcome new and returning guests home," said Kevin Goh, CEO Lodging, CapitaLand Group and CEO, The Ascott Limited

To tap on the work-from-home trend, Ascott is looking at upgrading its design to create a more productive workspace. Improvements to the overall ergonomics may include better task lighting, better use of space and appropriate wall features suited for videoconferencing or webcasting.

Digital solutions and technologies may also be further deployed. The use of sensors at Ascott properties can offer better safety through thermal scanning or to track footfall and crowds to facilitate better safe distancing measures, as well as smarter room energy and water management.

Ascott will launch of a new mobile app later this year, which will offer contactless entry to their apartments, payments, check-in and check-out. It can also provide seamless in-room service and smart controls.

Indian Hotels Company (IHCL)

Some of these measures include thermal screening of all employees and guests, intensive hospital level sanitization of its hotels as well as new contactless processes and social distancing measures.

Puneet Chhatwal, MD & CEO, Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), said, "For over a century, IHCL has been the pioneer and custodian of authentic Indian hospitality. Embedded in our DNA is our commitment to ensure the comfort of guests with the greatest sense of responsibility and care. The challenges we face are unprecedented, but we believe the best way for us to demonstrate our commitment is to give our guests and associates the assurance of exacting standards of safety and hygiene. We have augmented our already stringent protocols as we look forward to welcoming our guests to relive the legendary magic of Tajness restrengthened."

Mandatory temperature checks will be conducted with all guests and associates entering the hotels. Check-in and check-out formalities will be processed digitally as far as possible in order to have minimum contact. Common and high-touch areas of hotels like cars, lobbies and elevators would witness more frequent and industrial strength disinfectants. Restaurants and banquet areas will have fewer tables and all self-serving buffets are suspended.

All guest facing employees like baggage handlers, valets and guest relations and back room staff, like housekeeping and engineering, have been adequately trained on social distancing norms as well as the latest precautionary hygiene and safety guidelines. In addition, all associates and vendors will also be provided with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and all work areas will be disinfected regularly.

Cruises

At a bare minimum, these measures all include adherence to social distancing protocols of six feet (two metres) apart from other guests; stringent disinfection procedures; and enhanced health screenings both at embarkation and onboard.

Bahamas Paradise: will reduce capacity on its ships by 40 percent, introduce new online check-in procedures, fogging empty staterooms and cleaning occupied ones regularly, washing and disinfecting linens at high temperatures, limiting capacity of shops and entertainment venues to 50 percent capacity and eliminating air recirculation onboard all vessels.

CroisiEurope: Buffet service will be discontinued for lunch and dinner, replaced with two seatings featuring menu-driven options. Masks, hand sanitizer and gloves will be available upon request. Guests are encouraged to use masks on shore excursions and wireless audio systems to facilitate social distancing while on guided tours.

Genting: New boarding procedures, crowd control measures, elimination of self-service buffets, and mandatory doctor's notes required for cruisers over 70 years of age.

Windstar Cruises: Staggering arrivals and departures to its yachts to promote social distancing, while expanded dining times throughout venues onboard will further reduce crowding.

A-ROSA: Require guests on its river cruises to wear face masks while in public areas, except when seated for meals and while outdoors. The line also mandates that passengers practice social distancing of 1.5 metres (5 feet) at all times while onboard.

American Cruise Lines: The line has implemented a touchless check-in and boarding process, along with a 25 percent reduction in capacity. ACL will also allow for more time in between cruises to allow for a full sanitization of the vessel. Buffets will be eliminated, public washrooms will be closed, capacity will be reduced during mealtimes, and tables used only once per sitting. Those who have travelled internationally within 14 days of their voyage will be denied boarding.

American Queen Steamboat Company: Partnered with Ochsner Health of Louisiana to introduce new procedures, including pre-cruise medical questionnaires and temperature checks, random screenings at the gangway, hourly sanitation of high-touch surfaces, reduction in passengers onboard motorcoaches, and more.

Avalon Waterways: Reduce the overall capacity of each of its riverboats to encourage social distancing and will introduce hourly disinfection of public areas and will eliminate buffet and self-serve food options. Masks are available and guests are encouraged to use them for safety drills and disembarking the vessel before tours.

CroisiEurope: Buffet service will be discontinued for lunch and dinner, replaced with two seatings featuring menu-driven options. Masks, hand sanitizer and gloves will be available upon request. Guests are encouraged to use masks on shore excursions and wireless audio systems to facilitate social distancing while on guided tours.

Scylla AG (for Tauck): The only river cruise operator to prohibit the use of elevators onboard its riverboats; an important consideration for cruisers with mobility issues to take into account. An onboard doctor will accompany all journeys.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection: Set mealtimes, eliminated buffet service, and has discontinued self-service snacks, which will now be served by crew. Masks are available on coaches and in staterooms for guests, payments are now contactless, and books, magazines and brochures have been removed from use.

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