Covid-19 brings unprecedented challenges to the tourism industry and that means the Adventure Travel sector as well. However, Adventure Travel might be better equipped to recover and reboot faster simply because of the DNA of the experiences we offer – small groups, nature-based, and set in rural environments and communities. Our industry is resilient and serves a more intrepid traveler that might be willing to come back to travel before others. But no matter what, we need to adjust and adapt to the new normal.
The response to the global pandemic will be an opportunity to strengthen travel to be more sustainable. At the same time, the recovery and rebound will be complex and demand that companies and professionals adapt to a new market reality.
The ATTA team of experts prepared the topics below in collaboration with our global community. They are a set of recommendations that reflect the role of Adventure Travel in promoting the health and safety of our teams, travelers, and the communities we visit. They will evolve as more expertise, specifically scientific expertise, is gathered to overcome the challenges that Covid-19 and other epidemics bring to tourism.
These recommendations are focused on tour operators, service providers, nature-based accommodations, and guides offering adventure and nature-based tourism activities.
1. Reassess your market, consider all the options. Covid-19 has severely impacted society in many different ways. You need to check how your market has been affected and consider other opportunities. We suggest the following approach: local, regional, domestic, international short haul, international long haul.
2. Adjust your product according to the market. As the market has changed you need to adapt your product to the new demand. This is key to recovery. You need to consider what type of experiences your newly adjusted market demands post-Covid and to take into consideration your competition.
3. Develop a risk assessment approach. A risk assessment will help you to understand in an objective manner the new reality you live in, especially related to hygienic and sanitation measures. The new normal will demand safety and cleanliness to protect your team and travelers.
4. Map and develop health and safety protocols for team and travelers, specific to your product and activities. To keep things tight and under control, you need to formalize what are the new measures, procedures, briefings, and cleaning processes will enable you to come back to work.
5. Train and inform your team on the protocols on health, sanitation, and hygienic measures. Information and training are key to getting your team on the same page. This may include:
- Hands hygiene
- Personal protective equipment
- Physical distancing measures
- Cleaning equipment, surfaces and clothes
6. Consider your need to have new mandatory equipment in stock for this new reality. This might not be easy to purchase in the beginning. So plan in advance to make sure you won’t run out of it. This has become our new personal flotation devices – PFDs. This may include:
- Enough personal protective equipment for team and travelers
- Sanitation and hygienic equipment
7. Implement your operational adaptations and redesign your experience to help protect your team and your travelers. Cleaning protocols for high touch places and equipment, installing physical barriers, encouraging physical distancing, considering implementing touchless solutions, along with low touch, pursuing technology and innovations are some examples you should try to apply.
8. Adjust your terms and conditions. Include cancellation policies and check how insurance covers your business and also the options for travelers in the new market conditions. For example: Inform travelers of potential risks such as a quarantine and how that would be handled.
9. Promote health screening and be prepared to respond when symptoms appear in team and travelers. Establish clear policies in how your team should conduct self-monitoring and how to respond in the event symptoms appear. The same is true with travelers – policies and procedures should be clear and communicated in advance.
10. Be transparent and inform travelers about all you are doing and all that they should expect to do for themselves. The health and safety in this new reality is a shared responsibility. Make it clear that your business is an expert in Adventure Travel, not COVID-19, but reassure guests that you have policies in place to manage and respond to virus concerns.