Tourism in a COVID-19 world

New guidance to help revive the industry in a safe and secure way.

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One of the hardest-hit sectors in the current pandemic, tourism provides one in ten jobs worldwide and a significant percentage of many countries’ GDP, holding the livelihoods of many millions of people in its hands. What’s more, it often funds other areas such as wildlife conservation, culture and heritage sites.

Latest figures suggest the losses to the tourism industry since the crisis began are in the order of USD 1.2 trillion and over a hundred million jobs. Reviving this sector is therefore imperative, yet it needs to be in the context of protecting the health and safety of everyone. A new publicly available specification (PAS) has just been published to help. 

Natalia Ortiz de Zárate, Manager of the ISO committee that developed ISO/PAS 5643, said it draws on national and international guidelines that already exist, harmonizing and expanding them for a comprehensive document that any country can use. 

“It is essential that the tourism sector can reopen again, but in a safe and sustainable way,” she said. 

“There is no guarantee the world will return to how it was before and unpredictability has become the norm. The purpose of these guidelines is to support the industry in being agile and prudent, to be able to welcome visitors again in the best possible conditions, as a means of rebuilding trust and keeping everyone safe and secure.” 

ISO/PAS 5643, Tourism and related services – Requirements and guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the tourism industry, has a broad scope and will help all providers in the sector (accommodation, museums, transport, experiences, activities and guides) to ensure safer services and prevent the spread of the virus. It is designed to help tourism providers implement the best measures for everyone’s safety and reassure tourists of the effectiveness of what they have in place. 

The PAS has also been adopted by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) as the European Tourism COVID-19 Safety Seal, thus demonstrating its commitment to the guidelines and ensuring widespread take-up across the region.

The Seal is set out by two CEN Workshop Agreements: CWA 5643-1, Tourism and related services – Requirements and guidelines to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the tourism industry (ISO PAS 5643:2021), and CWA 5643-2, Tourism and related services – Requirements and guidelines to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the tourism industry – European visual identity, which focuses on Europe-specific recommendations and requirements.

ISO/PAS 5643 helps industry players identify and implement measures that reduce the spread of the epidemic, taking into account the different protocols worldwide. 

Maria Cruz Cádiz, Convenor of the working group that developed the PAS, said it includes requirements and recommendations to protect not just tourists but locals and tourism provider employees as well. 

“It is also flexible and comprehensive enough to be adapted to any kind of organization, including SMEs,” she said. 

The recommendations are therefore relevant to everything from accommodation establishments, restaurants, beaches and parks, transport companies, tour guides, spas, museums and heritage sites, the conference and events industry, to travel and tourism operators and more. 

ISO/PAS 5643 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 228, Tourism and related services, whose secretariat is held by UNE, ISO’s member for Spain. It can be purchased from your national ISO member or the ISO Store

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