As a guide for potential leisure travelers, the WTTC now issues a Safe Travels Pass to tourist establishments around the world that consistently comply with prescribed health and safety protocols. However, a significant number of tourists are reluctant to make the trip. In fact, Bloom Consulting, a leading agency based in Europe, conducted a survey creating a variety of scenarios, ranging from the removal of travel restrictions, to no quarantine required at destination, to the spread of the virus and the discovery of a cure. A difference of 15 to 45 percent of respondents expressed their refusal to take pleasure travel. So what facts do we in the travel industry need to consider? Although this pandemic has resulted in a decrease in disposable income for everyone, it is not the main reason why tourists are reluctant to make the trip. Feeling unsafe kills the desire to travel for leisure. For those who feel ready to travel, outdoor and low-density destinations will now be their first choice, and places with good health infrastructure will now be preferred. How then should the tourism industry respond to this new mindset of travelers? We have to repackage what we offer, to conform to the expectations and needs of the visitors, which means we have to offer something attractive and very safe. Smaller, low-density destinations should now take center stage.
There is then no point in lowering prices because cost is not as important a factor as fear in decreasing leisure traffic. A large majority seek less traveled destinations where an efficient health care infrastructure is in place. Of course, whatever marketing promotions we make must be supported by government measures and policies. Most importantly, leisure travelers will now prefer a destination with a team ready to respond to any crisis that may arise. What changes and increases have our tourist establishments had to put in place to ensure their safety for visitors? Standard health and safety protocols are now in place. Besides the usual face coverings, negative RT-PCR test results, PPE, temperature analyzes, foot baths, physical distance, hand sanitizers, plexiglass protective barriers, health declaration and contact tracing forms, each industry sector has some improvements to items. Airline ticket offices, travel agencies and tour operators are now promoting online check-in and contactless ticket purchases. At airports, cleaning and disinfection measures in heavily affected areas have been stepped up and they care for the elderly, disabled and pregnant women in a separate area. On board the aircraft, the cabin air is refreshed every two minutes, flowing up and down, while the cabin and toilet surfaces are rigorously sanitized with a high-quality eco-cleaning mixture. The aircraft is also equipped with a hospital grade air filtration system that removes 99.99% of airborne viruses and bacteria. In-flight meals are served in disinfected containers. In hotels and resorts, a negative same day rapid antigen test or negative RT-PCR test is required for each guest, and the number of guests allowed in a room depends on its size. Advance online reservations are encouraged and contactless transactions are practiced from check-in to check-out, including cashless payments.
In tourist attractions, the entry of visitors is controlled by pre-registration and allocated time slots. A one-way entrance and a separate one-way exit are used to prevent regrouping of guests, while floor markers and dividing lines ensure physical distance. Digital maps and menus are provided, while tour guides use cuffed microphones to prevent hand contact. All of these elements that I have mentioned add to the new reality of our tourism industry, to new safety standards, making travel a whole different ball game. With these enhancements now in place, I can say with confidence that we are ready for the next generation of pleasure travelers. For those who are still hesitant to take that pleasure trip, here is a little gem from American speaker and author Jack Canfield: “All you want is on the other side of fear!” For your comments, I am at [emailÂ protected]
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