With the gradual lifting of COVID-19 related restrictions across the globe, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has published a set of guidelines to restart tourism in a manner that will boost confidence among the stakeholders as well as travellers. The Indian government has already announced that hotels, restaurants and malls may open from June 8 (subject to prescribed regulations), and states like Rajasthan are opening their tourist attractions. In this first part of our two-part series, we highlight some timely tips from the guideline.
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Apart from emphasising on rules pertaining to security and hygiene to contain the spread of the pandemic, UNWTO suggest that hotels may consider creating positions such as a 'hygiene manager' and a 'guest guardian' to ease the process of following protocols by all. It has also suggested that hotels promote proximity and domestic tourism in the short-term, and enhance the local value chain in collaboration with local providers, local destination management organisations and other players in the sector.
One of the most pertinent suggestions is that hotels should not only keep aside a few spare rooms for possible sick or quarantined guests, but also liaise with local service providers in the health sector so that they can quickly seek help should a staff or a guest fall ill.
According to the guideline, hotels can get to know more about the guest before they arrive to provide a more personalised service. Guests must be informed about existing protocols in an easy and updated manner (e.g. time of the last cleaning, contact of health manager, etc.). On the service side, the guideline has advised that the frequency of cleaning in common areas and contact surfaces can be increased, contactless check-in implemented along with providing guests with a hygiene welcome kit (including gloves, masks, sanitizer), and ensuring physical distancing at all common spaces.
Hotels can also explore the use of electrostatic sprays, ultraviolet light, etc, and introduce technological systems such as “guest messaging” for direct and rapid contact with guests for reservations, refunds, cancellations or possible information about infections.
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Tourism attractions, including recreational facilities such as theme parks, will require strict monitoring to ensure all the protocols are maintained. According to the guideline, the use of masks and face coverings for both visitors and staff as well as sanitising cannot be over-emphasised. To prevent contamination, touch areas should be reduced as far as practicable. Where it is not possible, high touch areas must be frequently sanitised.
To ensure the safety of both visitors and guests, it is crucial that the crowd should be dispersed over a bigger area. Plans for managing density of people within the facilities, including placing signs or markings on the pavements to ensure appropriate social distancing, monitoring entrances, encouraging online payments and pre-bookings, and defining protocols for the flow path of visitors and common areas, are some of the key points emphasised by the guideline.