TOURCARE Guidelines set for Tour Operators

The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) recently collaborated with the Canadian Association of Tour Operators and the European Tourism Association to develop a set of health and sanitation guidelines designed specifically for tour operators called TOURCARE Guidelines for Tour Operators.

The TOURCARE Guidelines is to help clearly communicate that the health and well-being of every passenger is a top concern and priority, and that deliberate actions are being taken to safeguard traveler’s welfare by tour operators.

The guidelines establish recommended procedures for tour operators to provide protection for travelers against the transmission of COVID-19. While these recommendations and are not mandatory, there is a universal adoption by operators, who are now adding safety protocols to those rules and processes already in place.

The TOURCARE Guidelines provide direction for tour operators across all touch-points of a trip. Sanitization procedures in the guide stem from the recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), as well as local government health authorities.

Because travel is a shared experience, passengers, too, have certain responsibilities. TOURCARE Guidelines recommend that tour operators ask passengers to disclose their COVID-19 exposure prior to departure and agree to adhere to all recommended and required health and sanitization procedures including wearing of masks, gloves, and social distancing where appropriate.

Highlights of TOURCARE include:

  • Comply with applicable government and health authority requirements as well as these guidelines.
  • Employ touchless solutions when possible – and reduce touch points at operational levels, such as ticketing, payments, identification, check-in, etc.
  • Where possible, use face masks and gloves when interacting with passengers.
  • Sanitize high-touch areas frequently using products and disinfectants approved by the EPA and local health authorities for effectiveness against COVID-19.
  • Have personal protection equipment, such as face masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes available for passengers, as needed, or advise passengers where such items may be required for their tour.
  • Provide oversight of and ensure compliance with the TOURCARE Guidelines for Tour Operators related to staff, suppliers, and passengers.
  • Provide a downloadable leaflet to all passengers describing these guidelines and recommendations or direct passengers to where such information is available.
  • Communicate the health and sanitization procedures passengers will encounter throughout their trip as far as reasonably possible

In regard to staffing in training:

  • Promote frequent hand washing among staff and passengers.
  • Provide hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol to be available for passengers and staff at all possible times.
  • Recommend the use of face masks and gloves to staff when interacting with passengers where appropriate. • Promote the use of face masks to passengers.
  • Exercise physical distancing, were viable and in line with the latest official guidance or requirements, including motorcoaches and other modes of transportation.
  • Train all staff that may interact with passengers to ensure they are familiar and compliant with these guidelines and those set out by the public health authorities mentioned above.

Passenger responsibilities:

  • Passengers may be required to declare prior to departure that if they are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive or have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient within 14 days of departure.
  • Passengers will be advised of and asked to adhere to recommended hygiene procedures, such as traveling with and wearing a face mask and/or gloves when asked to do so, or limiting physical contact wherever possible.
  • Prior to departure, passengers may be asked to complete a pre-boarding questionnaire or declaration confirming they have familiarized themselves with health and safety guidelines and requirements related to their tour.

As you prepare to venture out into the world, you may find yourself looking for guidance. AAA Travel Agents are here to help you find answers. To speak to a AAA Travel Counselor call 1-800-222-7448.