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US Travel Association publishes guidelines for travel new normal

Touchless check-in, enhanced sanitation, urging sick
employees to stay home and reducing crowding in public spaces are some of the
guidelines the U.S. Travel Association is recommending travel companies
implement when the industry reopens. 

The guidance was written in collaboration with medical
experts and an array of businesses and organizations. 

U.S. Travel CEO Roger Dow said he wants political leaders
and the public to know the industry is setting a very high standard for
reducing the risk of coronavirus and that the practices in place will be
consistent “through every phase of the travel experience.” 

“As travel reopens, travelers need the confidence that
safety measures are in place from their departure to their return home,” he
said in a statement. 

The guidelines, titled “Travel in the New Normal,” lays out
measures the industry should follow “to reduce the risk of Covid-19 and help to
communicate across each and every step of a traveler’s journey.” 

Dow said in a call with the press that the industry will not
“encourage people to travel until we know it’s safe.”

Some of the recommended measures include installing physical
barriers such as transparent screens to provide separation between customers
and employees and discouraging congregating in crowded areas by reconfiguring
public spaces or limiting the number of employees and customers in certain
areas.

It also encourages touchless or low-touch solutions for
ticketing, check-in, payments and automated ordering and pick-up for food and
services. 

“Thinking creatively to limit staff physical contact with
customers where practical while still delivering superior service, for example,
through online ordering, curbside service delivery, automated entrances and
other practices,” the guidance says. 

Both employees and travelers should be encouraged to stay
home when they are sick and travel companies “should review their policies to
more easily enable employees to stay home when sick or when possibly exposed to
the coronavirus.” 

Dow said that travel CEOs understand it may be costly to
make some of these changes. 

“They’ve all said the cost is one we have to bear and will
bear because the cost of not doing it is far more,” he said. 

U.S. Travel said that the industry has lost an estimated 8
million jobs as of May 1, and the travel-related economic impact of coronavirus
is projected to be nine times worse than 9/11. Dow said that “Travel in the New
Normal” can serve as “a model for collaboration between the business and
medical communities that forges a path toward healing both the public health
and the economy.” 

He added that the well-being of employees and guests is the top
priority of travel businesses, but a secondary objective is to restore consumer
confidence so that travel demand will rebound quickly and help the economy
recover. 

“We will not
encourage people to travel until public health experts and authorities have
made it clear that it’s the right time to do so,” Dow said. “Our industry’s
focus is on preparing for that moment, and on demonstrating that our
preparations are comprehensive and informed by the counsel of top experts. This
collaboration is something that should help our customers, our businesses and
the industry as a whole to move beyond the most challenging period any of us
has ever faced.”

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