Plastic screens at hotel check-in desks, placards encouraging customers to maintain social distancing and hand-sanitizer kiosks at theme parks could become common for tourists under new guidelines for reopening hard-hit travel businesses by the sector’s largest trade association.
Guidelines released Monday by the U.S. Travel Association reflect a heightened focus on health and safety that will be similar to the security measures that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., said Roger Dow, president of the nonprofit group that represents transportation, hospitality and marketing organizations.
“The new normal is health and safety will be with us for the future as long as I can see it,” Dow said on a conference call with reporters.
The guidelines come as some U.S. states begin planning to re-open their economies after the broad idling of businesses due to the coronavirus and stay-home orders in place throughout the U.S. The travel sector has been hit especially hard, Dow said, accounting for some 8 million job losses.
The group’s plan includes making as many transactions “touch-free” as possible, minimizing contact between customers and staff, as well as heightened focus on sanitizing facilities, testing workers and keeping those with symptoms at home. The recommendations build upon guidance from the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and were developed with participation by health and medical experts.
It could also give rise to a new class of executive at large travel-industry companies: the health and safety officer.
“As we move to the next phase of our response to the pandemic, we must demonstrate leadership to elected officials and public health authorities who will decide when, how and under what conditions travel businesses are allowed to reopen across America,” the group said in the guidelines. “Just as importantly, we must also inspire confidence in travelers by demonstrating travel businesses are appropriately focused on their health and safety.”
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