WTTC Issues Safe Travel Protocols with Guidance for Restarting Events

The protocols, which are backed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, also include recommendations for airlines, airports, hotels and more.


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The COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the travel industry and sent unemployment soaring to historic highs, with 51 percent travel-related employees out of work in the U.S. To help rebuild the global travel economy and restore consumer confidence, the World Travel & Tourism Council has unveiled new protocols for traveling safely.

The second phase of protocols, released on May 29, include guidance for airlines, airports, tour operators and meeting professionals. The first phase, issued in mid-May, covers recommendations for safely restarting the retail and hospitality industries.

The new protocols aim to provide consistent health and safety measures across various destinations and countries. The WTTC has also launched a new Global Safety Stamp program to recognize businesses and governments that have adopted these protocols. Eligible businesses include hotels, restaurants, airlines, cruise lines, restaurants and more. The initiative is backed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

"We have learned from the past, especially after the tragedy of 9/11, where the lack of coordination among governments and with the private sector caused long-lasting travel disruption, higher costs and a longer recovery time," said WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara in a statement. "Coordination and alignment within the travel and tourism sector is vital to ensure that robust global measures are put in place to help rebuild confidence, and which are jointly embraced by the governments and private sector."

The new safety protocols follow recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WTTC member organizations and industry groups, such as the International Air Transport Association and the Cruise Lines International Association, were consulted during development.

Following are excerpts from the protocols:


  • Reduce venue capacity as needed, and implement physical distancing for aisles and seating.
  • Create visuals to showcase updated capacities for COVID-19.
  • Identify different areas of risk throughout the venue.
  • Consider conducting pre-arrival assessments for attendees.
  • Limit physical interactions between attendees and reduce queues at registration and reception areas.
  • Create isolation units for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. If possible, the isolation units should be outside of the venue.


  • Enhance cleaning measures, particularly of the boarding areas, common areas, luggage carts, baggage claim, counters, security checkpoints and bathrooms.
  • Add new signage to limit interactions and queuing.
  • Provide personal protection equipment for all staff.
  • Reduce passenger touchpoints, including through the use of online check-in and biometric e-gates.
  • Use full-body infrared scanners and non-intrusive temperature checks for entry and exit health screenings.
  • Improve food and safety measures at restaurants, such as using prepackaged foods instead of buffets.
  • Offer electronic options for travel declarations to minimize contact.


  • Reduce passenger touchpoints where possible.
  • Provide personal protective equipment for all staff.
  • Make hand sanitizers readily available in all high-traffic areas, including at check-in and boarding.
  • Revise company guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting aircraft.
  • Consider boarding from the back of the plane to the front and from the window to the aisle.
  • Limit movement around the cabin as much as possible.
  • Implement staff training for new hygiene measures and infection control procedures.


  • Revise and enhance cleaning standards, with particular attention paid to high-touch areas.
  • Ensure social distancing for guests through signage and restrictions, such as limiting the number of people per elevator.
  • Implement staff training for infectious-disease prevention and containment.
  • Leverage technology to minimize contact points between guests and staff, such as through contactless payments and no-contact room delivery.
  • Reopen food-and-beverage and event spaces with clear measures for social distancing, food safety and disinfection.

Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Barcelona and Cancún are among the first destinations to commit to the program, according to Guevara.

"Portugal has been committed in reassuring our tourists they will always have the best experience in our country," said Rita Marques, secretary of state for tourism at Visit Portugal, in a statement. "This stamp, together with our Clean & Safe program, is one step further in reassuring everyone that we take care, our destination is focused on recovery and trust is at the core of our business."