Thursday, March 23, 2023

Puerto Rico Gov’t: Tourism Sector Takes Lead In Standards to Safeguard Visitor Health, Safety

By on April 30, 2020

Photo by Feisdra on Unsplash

Launches Certification Program for Tourism Businesses

SAN JUAN — The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) announced Thursday the creation of a program to grant a “gold-star validation seal” to tourism-related businesses that implement the highest health and safety measures. 

The PRTC said it seeks to gain a competitive advantage for the island in “recognizing the need for new standards of cleaning, disinfection, hygiene and the…implementation of additional measures” through the certification program, which has been developed using “the most rigorous standards, best practice cases have been used as reference, as well as guides and recommendations” from the agencies and organizations that specialize in protecting public health.

The government hopes the new hygiene standards are adopted by tourism businesses such as “hotels, resorts, paradores, posadas, bed & breakfasts, small inns, guesthouses, time-shared properties, short-term rentals, casinos, tour operators, tourist transportations, experiences management, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and attractions.”

“The objective of the program is to elevate Puerto Rico’s tourism industry and position it as the new gold standard in destination health and safety,” a press release reads.

The PRTC said it aims to “increase consumer confidence in Puerto Rico as a destination that is prepared and has adjusted to the current situation.”

“By the time the tourism commerce reopens and the destination is ready to welcome visitors again, it is expected that the vast majority of tourism-related businesses will be practicing these measures and safeguarding everyone’s safety.”

The program comprises a two-level system that was designed based on the guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 3990 report, the Puerto Rico Department of Health, Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced’s executive orders, “and high-caliber programs such as Singapore’s Safety Seal and the National Restaurant Association,” the PRTC said.

“The first level is a Tourism Health and Safety Operational Guide, a practical guidance with the mandatory measures to safeguard the health of employees, visitors and local patrons. The second one is the Health and Safety Seal; a certification program for all endorsed tourism industry businesses that meet or have exceeded the implementation and on-going execution of the established measures,” the PRTC explained.

“These operating guides and the certification program are vital for the reopening of the travel and tourism sector in Puerto Rico and are important factors that will place us in a highly competitive position once the travel and tourism market reopens. When making their travel plans, consumers will consider the destinations best prepared to provide them with the necessary measures and resources to protect their health. Collective participation in its implementation, both by companies and customers, will be key to adopting the necessary personal habits and practicing social responsibility. This is the best way to offer our local public and tourists the safety and hygiene standards that they expect and deserve,” PRTC Executive Director Carla Campos said.

According to the PRTC, the guide includes measures such as “creation of wellness checkpoints for employees and guests, new check-in process and completion of the Travel Declaration and Contact Tracing Form, safe and social distancing measures guidance per type of business and activity; restrictions and additional health measures for self-service food systems: augmented cleaning and disinfecting protocols; instructions regarding hand-sanitizing stations; and training on the use of PPE – Personal Protection Equipment.”

The program’s rollout begins Monday, May 4.

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