Although most coach tours remain suspended, tour operators have readied themselves to put a convincing coach-touring offering on the table in the COVID-19 context.
New protocols include increased hygiene and sanitation measures and provision for social distancing, while tour leaders have also undergone additional training.
G Adventures started running some tours last month and has a selection departing in October, November and December but, outside the special selection, the balance of its tours has been suspended until the end of the year.
Trafalgar has suspended all trips worldwide departing up until November30, 2020, and all Europe and Britain trips departing up to February 28, 2021.
Intrepid Travel has cancelled the majority of its tours until November 30, 2020 and is reviewing departures as travel advisories change around the world. However, in June, Intrepid launched a range of shorter breaks that are based in one location, with activities in the surrounding area. These are mainly in Australia and New Zealand with a few operating in Europe and these are also under constant review. Both Australia and New Zealand have closed borders for tourists, but Australia has announced plans to create a tourism corridor with New Zealand under certain conditions during October 2020.
In view of the pandemic, tour leaders for G Adventures, Trafalgar and Intrepid Travel tours have undergone additional COVID-19 health and safety training.
From next year, all Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold trips of 20 or more guests will have a dedicated wellbeing director to support the travel director and driver team. The wellbeing director will be responsible for quality checks to ensure all travel partners meet local regulations as well as the established TTC wellbeing protocols, together with those of the WTTC and WHO. This does not apply to Australia and New Zealand trips because they are defined as low-risk countries, although these tours still feature all the safety protocols that have been introduced across the TTC brands.
Other measures that have become standard across coach tour operators include deep cleaning of all vehicles, frequent sanitisation of high-touch surfaces and the requirement that travellers complete a pre-screening COVID-19 questionnaire or declaration. Although coach operators are not making a negative PCR test a prerequisite for travelling, testing is required by a number of countries and passengers will have to present these before boarding an international flight.
Trafalgar guests are asked to bring face masks and the trips operate with a number of empty seats to allow for extra physical distancing.
Intrepid guests are required to wear a mask prior to the health screening at the group meeting. After that, masks are worn when and where advised by the government’s advice on the destination.