Planning has begun for hygiene and confidence measures needed to reboot the holiday industry, but Ireland has yet to publish a tourism recovery plan
Hotels, restaurants and tourism businesses in Portugal have been invited to apply for a 'Clean & Safe' stamp showing they adhere to hygiene protocols aimed at controlling Covid-19 "and other possible infections".
The stamps of approval are free, optional and valid for one year.
To display them, businesses must implement "an internal protocol" recommended by the country's General Directorate of Health, Turismo de Portugal says.
The protocols range from staff training measures to cleaning and disinfection regimes, social distancing between staff and having a place where people displaying possible symptoms of Covid-19 can isolate.
"Random audits" will ensure protocols are being adhered to.
Before Covid-19, Irish visitors made over 350,000 trips to the Algarve alone every year - many to holiday homes or on return visits.
The 'Clean & Safe' stamps, designed to safeguard health and reinforce confidence among such visitors, come as governments around the world look to develop rules and roadmaps for tourism recovery.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced similar plans to introduce a safety and health certification to boost visitor confidence and tool up its industry, for example.
The Canary Islands has said the right health protocols could see local tourism resume this summer, while Spain's tourism ministry says it is preparing "technical specifications for hygiene and health safety" for transport, accommodation, bars and restaurants, beaches, nightlife and nature parks.
Spain expects domestic tourism to resume first, its Secretary of State for tourism has said, "for reasons of proximity, trust and ease of access, while international tourism will take a little longer".
Re-opening tourism will involve huge practical challenges - from social distancing in hotels, restaurants and kitchens to tourist transport, border health checks and the management of visitors at attractions.
EU tourism ministers agreed this week that collaborative measures and co-ordinated policy actions will be critical in safely rebooting the industry, and that unilateral action or a race to re-open could pose virus risks.
Bailouts, business supports, health rules, transport corridors and consumer rights are all up for discussion in the development of potential relief packages and exit strategies.
Meanwhile, the Irish Government has yet to publish a broad tourism recovery plan, sector-specific supports or health protocols, despite urgent pleas from the industry.
“Every day’s delay in implementing measures results in greater risks to our tourism and hospitality industry, Ireland’s largest indigenous employer,” says Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
Minister Shane Ross this week revealed that he plans to establish a tourism recovery taskforce "which will come up with a recovery plan to help the Irish tourism sector", but has not shared a timeline or further details.
Following the video conference meeting of EU ministers this week, he urged the EU "to introduce new, tourism-specific funding supports for member states and pressed for maximum flexibility in State Aids rules to enable provision of timely and appropriate supports for the sector," the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport said.
NB: Fáilte Ireland has an online Covid-19 Business Supports Hub.
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