Following a collaboration between medical experts and a broad array of businesses and organizations, the U.S. travel industry submitted to the White House and governors a document containing detailed guidance for travel-related businesses to help keep their customers and employees safe as the country emerges from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Entitled "Travel in the New Normal," the document describes the measures the travel industry will follow to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and help to communicate across each and every step of a traveler's journey. The goal: To allow travel to safely resume as states and municipalities relax physical distancing guidance.
"We want political leaders and the public alike to see that our industry is setting a very high standard for reducing the risk of coronavirus in our businesses, and that the practices in place to achieve that standard are consistent through every phase of the travel experience," said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement. "As travel reopens, travelers need the confidence that safety measures are in place from their departure to their return home."
The travel industry has been hit especially hard by the public health crisis; the industry is estimated to have lost eight million jobs as of the first of May, and the travel-related economic impact of coronavirus is projected to be nine times worse than 9/11.
Beyond the wellbeing of employees and guests, a secondary objective of the "Travel in the New Normal" guidance is to restore consumers' confidence in the travel process, in the hope that travel demand will rebound quickly, and the industry can help power a robust economic and jobs recovery.
"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 added. "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.
The "Travel in the New Normal" guidance is focused on six main areas, with the document providing specific examples for each:
- Travel businesses should adapt operations, modify employee practices and/or redesign public spaces to help protect employees and customers.
- Travel businesses should consider implementing touchless solutions, where practical, to limit the opportunity for virus transmission while also enabling a positive travel experience.
- Travel businesses should adopt and implement enhanced sanitation procedures specifically designed to combat the transmission of COVID-19.
- Travel businesses should promote health screening measures for employees and isolate workers with possible COVID-19 symptoms and provide health resources to customers.
- Travel businesses should establish a set of procedures aligned with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance should an employee test positive for COVID-19.
- Travel businesses should follow best practices in food and beverage service to promote health of employees and customers.
Contributing organizations included the U.S. Travel Association, Airlines for America, Brand USA, American Hotel & Lodging Association, Cruise Lines International Association, American Society of Travel Advisors, United States Tour Operators Association and more than a dozen others.