COVID-19 put a halt to a number of things this year, with the main one being travel. In 2019, Americans took more than 800 million trips from July through September. This summer, the COVID-19 pandemic has redefined vacation travel. People have been forced to reconsider where to go, how to get there, and the safety precautions they need to take.
With the number of cases rising across the globe, most borders between countries remain closed for tourism purposes. But for those who will be traveling, especially this upcoming holiday season, it is important to take steps to protect yourself and those around you from COVID-19.
But is it safe to travel yet?
Before we get to that alarming point, take a look at how to minimize the transmission of COVID-19.
Safe travel tips during the pandemic:
- Wear a mask on your flight, in public, and wherever requested at your destination.
Recent studies have shown that masks do help prevent the spread.
- Practice Social Distancing – Maintain a distance of six feet or more from people outside your immediate travel companions.
- Where to Stay – Look for destinations, hotels, and operators that are following COVID-19 safety guidelines – like Travel COVID Safe accredited companies.
- Know the Rules – Comply with all local regulations. If a destination has a mandatory quarantine for arrivals who test positive, know this before you go.
- Practice Good Hygiene – Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, and avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth.
- Get Outside – Most transmissions of COVID-19 happen indoors. Avoid eating indoors at over-crowded restaurants and if it’s possible, do more activities outside such as hiking, biking or walking. Plus, nature allows us to recharge our batteries.
- Be prepared -Carry with you personal hand sanitizers and extra masks.
NOTE – The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has upped the size of hand sanitizer bottles you can bring on board from 3.4 oz to 12 oz.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, or think you may have been exposed, do not travel. For more information, please visit this link to the CDC’s website, specifically on travel during COVID-19.
Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Is it actually safe to travel?
Apart from these tips, we are aware of the many COVID-related accreditation efforts underway by trade associations, corporations, and governing agencies. While the standards being developed are all addressing pretty similar areas; masks, distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, reporting, isolation, etc., what is consistently missing are processes for verification that these standards are actually being followed.
“Most are TALKING the right things, but how many are DOING the right things?”
– Tim Case, one of the founders of Travel COVID Safe, concerned about the validity in hospitality operations deemed “safe” or not.
We will not know unless we validate and audit these procedures. In an international environment where everyone is saying the right thing, verification allows the identification of that subgroup that is actually doing the right thing.
Out of all the industries, we should be embarrassed about our industry’s lack of preparedness. We knew it was coming – we saw it with Zika, Ebola, SARS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu (Brazil, Western Africa, Asia, and so forth) – but we kept on ignoring by a selfish approach that it does not affect me, that only affects travel to Latin America, travel Western Africa, travel to Asia, and so forth. There is no excuse for what we have right now, which is a lack of global tourism organizations to manage standards and cooperation.
That’s where Travel COVID Safe comes in.
Travel COVID Safe provides four key services; a body of standards, an analysis of a client’s current practices against those standards, coaching to elevate those practices to meet the standards and verification that the new practices are consistently in use.