“After September 11, we had the mantra, ‘without security, there can be no travel.’ The COVID-19 crisis has evolved this thinking to ‘without guidance on the health and safety of travelers, there can be no travel, no sustained reopening of our businesses, and no revival of the U.S. economy,’” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
Dow made the statement during a call with media introducing “Travel in the New Normal,” a document that provides that guidance, preparing travel industry businesses to reopen once it’s safe to travel. The document was created with input from medical professionals and based on “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again,” issued by the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is endorsed by 31 travel industry organizations.
The goals for creating the guidelines were twofold, said Dow, “to demonstrate leadership and consistency across the industry to the federal, state, and local elected officials and public health authorities who will decide when, how, and under what conditions travel will reopen again in America” and “when the official clearance is given to travel again, we want to do all we can to give the public confidence that they can travel safely.” The document has been sent to the White House and the governors of every state.
The guidelines outline a layered approach to safety for travel businesses, combining transmission barriers (such as touchless payment systems, social distancing, and protective equipment), enhanced sanitation (which includes new policies, training, and technologies), and health screening, and best practices in food and beverage service. “Each company will use these recommendations, and they’ll build upon them, adapting additional measures that are applicable and sensible to the services they provide,” Dow said.
While the document is aimed at travel businesses, it also comments on the role of the traveling public: “They must adopt new travel practices and follow science-based guidelines to help protect the health of their families and those around them, including fellow travelers and industry employees. In the spirit of collective action needed to defeat COVID-19, we urge travelers to do their part and follow government and industry guidance to help protect themselves and others.”
The document does not make recommendations for when travel should resume. “We’re going to listen to the experts,” Dow said. “We will not encourage people to travel until it’s safe to travel.”