. Destinations Introduce Hygiene Certifications in Response to COVID-19 Concerns | Northstar Meetings Group

Destinations Introduce Hygiene Certifications in Response to COVID-19 Concerns

With an eye toward welcoming back travelers and groups, Abu Dhabi is the latest destination to launch a campaign that standardizes and certifies enhanced cleanliness measures.

Abu Dhabi is the latest destination to introduce a destination-wide hygiene-certification program.
Abu Dhabi is the latest destination to introduce a destination-wide hygiene-certification program.

Updated May 26, 2020, 10:30 a.m. EDT.

As destination officials look towards reopening venues following lockdowns or restrictions on gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several have launched national certification programs to reassure visitors and groups that they have enhanced their virus-prevention measures.

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Most recently, Abu Dhabi has unveiled a cleaning certification initiative. The Safe and Clean program, developed by the Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism, will be rolled out in phases. The first phase will be dedicated to hotels, followed by tourism attractions and businesses. Further details will be posted soon on the DCT Abu Dhabi website. 

“Our priority is to ensure that our residents and visitors feel safe and comfortable in Abu Dhabi and as hygiene and cleanliness have risen to become vital factors considered by all individuals today, we believe that it is imperative for all institutions and businesses to elevate and then maintain hygiene standards,” said Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing, DCT Abu Dhabi. 

The program builds on the UAE's National Disinfection Program, launched in late March as part of the preventative and precautionary measures taken by the country to move quickly to contain the spread of COVID-19 and position it for a comeback and welcome groups as soon as safety allows. 

“Through this tourism-board-led program, we hope to boost the confidence of consumers when considering Abu Dhabi as a tourism destination," added Al Shaiba. "Our dedicated team has been working closely with different stakeholders to ensure that this program considers all elements of health and safety and we encourage all hotels and industry partners to attain the certificate.”

Portugal's national tourism authority, Turismo de Portugal, launched the "Clean & Safe" program on April 24 — through which tourist attractions and businesses can be certified for following specific hygiene guidelines.

The certificate can be obtained online by declaring a commitment to a cleanliness protocol developed with Portugal's directorate general for health. Qualifying organizations will be assigned a stamp associated with their respective registering body: RNET (National Register of Tourist Enterprises), RNAAT (National Register of Tourist Entertainment Agents) or RNAVT (National Register of Travel and Tourism Agents). In coordination with these registers, Turismo de Portugal will then carry out random audits throughout the year to ensure the measures remain in place.

By verifying and promoting the certification, Turismo de Portugal aims to offer visitors an added level of confidence in the coronavirus-prevention efforts underway throughout the destination.

Portugal's initiative follows that of the government of Singapore, which recently rolled out its own expansive hygiene-certification program, SG Clean. This campaign provides a targeted checklist for each type of public-facing business in the city-state, including MICE venues and hotels. Requirements include assigning an SG Clean Manager on the premises, conducting temperature checks of employees and visitors, implementing safe-distancing measures for lines and seating, and increasing the frequency of disinfection — particularly for elevators, handrails, meeting rooms and variety of other high-touch areas.

After ensuring requirements are met, venue owners must schedule an in-person audit by an approved agency — which for MICE venues would be the Singapore Tourism Board. When approved, the venue receives a certificate to post publicly, reassuring visitors they have met the new elevated standards.

By mid-March, the SG Clean campaign had certified more than 5,000 venues. Currently, all audits are on hold, as the destination has seen a recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases and has resumed strict social-distancing restrictions until at least June 1.