Travel insights from Andrea Sedlacek, editor of The Compass

How the Travel Industry is Managing the Coronavirus

There is an endless amount of information on the coronavirus out there right now and the recommendations and travel advisories related to coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are updating frequently. As a travel agent, it can be hard to stay on top of the latest development as you’re trying to run your business and serve your clients. There are reliable sources you can turn to for information; here’s what they’re saying about coronavirus.

Global Health Organizations

Science is your friend in situations like this and sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are frequently publishing up-to-date information on the coronavirus.

WHO has a page on their website dedicated to coronavirus updates, along with a page with FAQs, recommendations for protecting yourself and travel advice. Their advice for travelers is to avoid or delay traveling to affected areas if you are sick, especially if you are elderly or have a chronic disease or underlying health conditions. WHO recommends that if you are traveling, follow their general recommendations for personal hygiene and cough etiquette:

  • Wash your hands
  • Cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or a tissue when sneezing or coughing (and discard the tissue and wash your hands after)
  • Do not touch your mouth, eyes and nose

WHO also says that there is no evidence that a medical mask protects people who are not sick, and wearing a mask is not required if you are not having symptoms. If you do choose to wear a mask, WHO recommends following their recommendations for hand hygiene and cough etiquette as well.

CDC also has a page dedicated to coronavirus updates on their website, as well as a page with travel information that includes an interactive map showing risk assessment by country. CDC recommends cancelling nonessential travel only to the countries they’ve given a Warning Level 3. If you are worried about an upcoming trip for you or your clients, that page may have information to help guide you.

Trusted Travel Industry Sources

Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) is frequently releasing statements on the coronavirus. They announced additional enhanced screening measures that all of their members must follow.

Travel agency groups are also publishing advice to travelers amid concerns about traveling under the potential threat of coronavirus:

  • AAA recently published advice for travelers, which closely follows the CDC’s recommendation but also suggests that travelers:
    • Bring all necessary travel documentation along with health insurance cards
    • Pack alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
    • Understand what waivers your travel providers have put in place
  • Travel Leaders Group's statement included this advice along with following CDC’s recommendations:
    • Don’t panic
    • Purchase travel insurance that includes “cancel for any reason” policies
    • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) when traveling internationally
    • Consult your healthcare provider for additional advice or guidance
  • Virtuoso published a traveler-facing blog post declaring that of course choosing to travel or cancel is a personal decision, but that it’s still safe to travel and you may have peace of mind if you choose a destination closer to home. As far as summer travel goes, don’t make any changes yet, as the coronavirus situation is changing frequently. Instead, like Travel Leaders Group, the Virtuoso blog recommends purchasing a “cancel for any reason” policy.

Because there is new information about the coronavirus coming every day, check your resources frequently to be up-to-date on travel providers’ cancellation policies as well as any government restrictions or updates.

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