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Aussie tour operators unveil COVID-Safe Travel Protocols

Intended to lead the land supply sector through the travel and tourism industry's journey to recovery, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has produced a set of COVID-Safe Travel Protocols based on guidelines published by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

As the industry moves from crisis management to recovery, the protocols developed and deployed by tour operators and the land supply sector will play a key role in ensuring the safety, health and security of travellers and the industry's workforce alike.


"By their nature as travel experience creators, tour operators and wholesalers weave all of the industry's moving parts together in their bespoke consumer offerings—airlines, hotels, ground transport, attractions, guides, government regulations and more," says Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO.


CATO's Brett Jardine


"And while all CATO Member businesses and their offerings are unique, we believe it's essential that a closely aligned, global approach to COVID-safety is the best way to navigate our way through the industry's recovery."


Accordingly, CATO has provided members with a set of COVID-safe travel protocols based on those developed by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in collaboration with leading tour operators around the world. 


"The protocols see the land-supply sector lead the definition of industry best practice as we move from crisis management to recovery and put the health and security of travellers and the industry's workforce at their core" says Jardine.


Supported by medical evidence, the coherent protocols have been developed through a coordinated, collaborative, and transparent approach within the global travel and tourism sector, governments, and public health authorities.


The detailed protocols released by CATO focus on three key areas:

  • Operational and Staff Preparedness
  • Delivering a Safe Experience
  • Rebuilding Trust & Confidence


The protocols describe recommendations around signage, staff training and sanitation, health and hygiene, social distancing, contactless payment, contact tracing and communication.


Image Supplied


Elsewhere, Australian company and CATO full member APT Travel Group (ATG) has responded to the Covid-19 situation by implementing a number of new measures to elevate its health and hygiene protocols giving travel agents assurance that they can recommend ATG products with confidence. 


ATG’s Safe Travel Protocols include increased measures across all products, with a specific focus on Australian touring. Some key areas of attention for their extensive Australian programmes include:  

  • All classic coach touring will adhere to social distancing requirements where applicable and have a maximum of 24 guests* on their large capacity coaches (48 guests).
  • Pre-travel health screenings with specific COVID-19 health assessment forms and reporting for all guests and crew. Any guest who doesn’t meet the criteria will not be allowed to begin the tour or cruise. 
  • Hand sanitiser will be available on all our tours and cruises at all times. 
  • No self-serve buffets will be offered on any tours and cruises. 
  • Face masks will be available for all guests on request. 
  • All staff and crew will undertake industry recognised Covid-19 training in areas of health and hygiene, and an in-house training program is under development for ATG’s international crew members, drawing on best practice initiatives from around the world.  
  • Small ship cruising limited to 114 guests with specific enhanced health and hygiene protocols. 
  • Increased cleaning of frequently touched surfaces with hospital grade cleaning products used. 
  • Small group offerings align themselves with social distancing with fewer guests in communal areas at one time, such as small groups in the exclusive ATG owned Kimberley Lodges.
  • Working with supplier partners to ensure all health and safety protocols are of the highest standard and suppliers used across all products will meet COVID regulations.


These measures will be implemented across ATG’s well established brands; APT, Travelmarvel, TravelGlo and Botanica World Discoveries for all upcoming programmes and trip styles.  


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Published: 15 June 2020

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