TRAVEL BHUTAN POST PANDEMIC WITH BMV TOURS

Bhutan has gone from the extremes of self-isolation until the 1970s to increasing its connections with the outside world over recent decades. What Bhutan is quickly learning is that while globalization and science are to be embraced, it should also look to its heritage to survive in troubling times. Bhutan’s successful handling of the novel coronavirus has caught the attention of many countries and leaders with all praising the initiatives led by His Majesty The King. The visible leadership of our king and some politicians has also been key. The king travelled to most districts, including the southern part of the country, which shares a porous border with India, to help support quarantine efforts. Following an evidence-based approach of testing, effective quarantines, and border control, Bhutan has been able to avoid overloading its limited healthcare system. But the under-resourced nation’s response has been fortified by its traditional communal values, which has seen its king, citizens, and government work in lockstep to support the nation.

Tourism is configured as the main industry in many areas of Bhutan and the current COVID-19 context requires establishing protocols so that there are no risks in reopening of the facilities.

1. AT THE AIRPORT:

  • The airport should follow government protocols

  • Body temperature of each guest will be checked during the first point of meeting. If the guest has a high temperature (37.8 CC+) with or without showing other signs of COV.19 related symptoms, must be checked again with a different measuring device. If the temperature is consistently higher than 37.8C, guest will be taken to the closest medical facility (e.g. airport infirmary or designated medical clinic) to consult with medics and local authorities for their attention and actions.

  • The Operation Team will find out number of luggage that guests (specially for Groups) In order to make sure before arrival that luggage Van or car has enough space and avoid delays at airport.
  • Disinfection of luggage before load them to the cars when possible
  • Show Health certificate as long government request it.
  • Control of Temperature before getting into the cars
  • Use of mask is mandatory
  • Welcome costumers and ask them to go directly to their rooms for a shower and change clothes.

2. TOUR GUIDES & TOUR OPERATIONS

We at Bhutan Mind Vacation Tours have firm commitment to risk management, executing the systematic implementation of the contingency plan measures defined for the prevention and reduction of health and hygiene risks in the exercise of our activities. For this, our Tour Guides must:

  • Identify risks (routes to follow, places to be visit, possible crowds, group size, restrictions in the provision of certain tourist services, etc.)
  • Carry out a risk assessment to draw conclusions.
  • Do allocation of material resources, including the determination of the use of Personal Protective Equipment
  • Have the determination and implementation of an action protocol in the event that a guest with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 is observed, in any case following the guidelines of the health authorities.
  • Compliance with the recommendations and guidelines issued by the health authorities in relation to special measures against COVID-19.
  • Need to be trained in the guidelines to follow regarding the prevention of health and hygiene risks in the development of our activity.
  • Avoid greeting with physical contact, including shaking hands, both with other tourist guides, providers, and visitors. The safety distance should be respected whenever possible.
  • Complete the aid kit with a thermometer and extra antiseptic gel, and masks.
  • Refrain from providing the service. If the tour guide experiences any symptoms of the disease, even on a mild basis.
  • Wear the mask (or protective screen) whenever the safety distance cannot be guaranteed and urge guests to wear it also in those cases.
  • Wash their hands frequently with soap and water, or, if there is no such possibility, use a disinfecting solution. It is especially important after coughing or sneezing and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces (knobs, railings, elevators, etc.)
  • Frequently disinfect objects for personal use (glasses, cell phones, microphones, etc.) with soap and water and, if not possible, with a disinfecting solution. For the disinfection of electronic work equipment, it is necessary to use disinfectant products applied with a cloth, or disinfecting wipes.
  • Avoid, as far as possible, sharing work equipment or devices with other tourist guides. In case there is an alternation in the use of certain equipment or devices (walkies, radio guides, telephones, umbrellas, etc.)

3.DESIGNE OF ACTIVITIES

The tourist guide must follow the following preventive measures in the design of their activities:

  • Determine how the visit is to be carried out and where the route is going to run from the risk assessment and the regulations and / or possible restrictions that are applied by the various service providers (museums, monuments, natural spaces, etc..). For example: Prepare one-way tours to avoid group crossings whenever possible (small cities, historic centers), coordinating in any case with other tourist guides.
  • Avoid areas susceptible to concentrating crowds.
  • Avoid confined spaces and with limited capacity.
  • Use Set Menu and a la Carte instead of buffet or family style. Avoid use of Menu Card. All menus should be prepared in menu board, or by voice, or other option that does not required touching.
  • Avoid the use of common cutlery standing in basket in the middle of the table. Cutleries should be prepared by the time each guest arrived.
  • Walking tours and stops to explain monuments, places, houses must be done in open and / or wide spaces, respecting the safety distance.
  • A maximum number of people should be established to offer the service safely.
  • The tourist guide should ask the providers with whom he wants to contract a service (e.g. accommodation, restaurants, coaches, museums, monuments, visitor centers, etc.) the protocol for the prevention of hygiene-health risks against COVID- 19 that apply. If this is not possible, Guides should request and know at least those of the service providers with whom you work the most.

4. COORDINATION WITH TOURISM SERVICE PROVIDERS

The tour guides should coordinate with providers and destinations/places to visit in order to avoid crowds upon arrival of the groups, for example:

  • Sending the previous list of customer documentation.
  • Handing out the keys to the rooms inside the vehicle or before arrival to the lobby, using big Garden areas of the Hotel for example. This is to avoid crowd in the lobby
  • Accessing the hotel / monument/Local House in stages.
  • Establishing an appointment.
  • Contacting with head of the villages to avoid being in the village the same time as Big Groups.
  • Regarding the transportation, should follow the guidelines and recommendations in this regard for the carrier. For the transportation of passengers, the instructions issued by the health authorities (spaces between passengers, safety distance from the driver, etc.) must be followed at all times. In particular, each passenger must maintain their fixed position inside the vehicle each time they get in.
  • Information and communication prior to activities, BMV Operation Team must be able to access information on the location and contact of medical attention and emergency centers where we can refer a client with symptoms compatible with COVID-19.

5.RECEPTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF ACTIVIVITIES

The following preventive measures must be followed: Before starting the tour / visit

  • The tourist guides must remember the preventive measures implemented and urge that they be carried out for the good and safety of others (do not touch surfaces, maintain a safe distance, use of a mask, wash hands frequently, use of hand Sanitizer, Check Temperature, do not share sun screen, clothes, etc.)
  • The tourist guides must inform the group about the visit, the route and the rules and/or possible restrictions that are applied by the various providers (museums, monuments, natural areas, etc.) are going to be carried out.
  • Those forms of greeting and/or farewell that involve physical contact with the guest should be avoided.

During the tour/visit:

  • The tourist guides must always give an image of tranquility and confidence in the application of this protocol. During the tour, the guests must be reminded of the compliance with this measurement protocol.
  • The ID of the Tourist Guide, which must always be visible during the service, must be properly sanitized.
  • The tour guides who chooses to wear gloves should put them in front of the visitors and use them correctly, although it is recommended to opt for hand washing before and after the visit and whenever equipment is shared.
  • The distribution of printed material such as maps, brochures, etc. should be avoided. If this is not possible, they should be laminated, easy to clean and disinfect or single use. Softcopy material to be downloaded in gadget would be preferred and likely used.
  • The planned schedule must be respected as much as possible to avoid problem.
  • Always coordinate with the other group who happen to be on the same place, distance should be respected, especially in places with narrow streets, access to monuments, local houses, etc. The safety distance should be maintained between the tour guide and the clients, and between themselves throughout the tour. If this is not possible, a mask should be used, and customers should be used as well. The customer should be informed of this point, as well as whether it is necessary to bring it with them.

6. AFTER THE TOUR AND DURING THE FAREWELL

  • Avoid the use of cash and prioritize the use of card or other electronic means, preferably contactless. In the event cash is handled, for example tipping the tour guides, hands should be washed or disinfected as soon as possible. Adding directly the tips in the tour price can be another option.
  • The used protection materials (masks, gloves, etc.) must be disposed of properly.

7. CLEANING REQUIRMENTS

The tourist guide should consider the following aspects in terms of cleaning and disinfection:

  • The use, in safety conditions, of authorized disinfectant cleaning products that must be used according to the safety data sheets of said products.
  • The increase in cleaning frequencies, especially in the areas of greatest contact.
  • As a general rule, all the material used during the provision of the service must be disinfected at the end of the service.
  • The card method machine ( Debit Card/Credit Car) must be disinfected after each use in which there is contact.
  • Vehicles for the transport of tourists must be completely disinfected at the end of the service and, if the service covers several day or daily.

8. HOTELS:

  • Facilitate system pre-checking, to make easy and fast the checking part and avoid crowds
  • Hand Hygiene: Proper and frequent hand washing is vital to help combat the spread of viruses. Hotel teams are reminded that cleanliness starts with this simple act. It’s important for their health and that of our guests.
  • Cleaning Products and Practices: hotels use cleaning products and clear protocols which are effective against viruses, including:
  • Guest Rooms: Hotels use cleaning and disinfecting procedures to clean rooms after guests depart and before the next guest arrives, with particular attention paid to high-touch items.
  • Public Spaces: Hotels have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting in public spaces, with a focus on the counter at the front desk, door handles, public bathrooms, and even room keys, parking area, hotel entrance, lobby, restaurant, and Spa.
  • Back Areas: In the spaces where associates work behind the scenes, hotels must increase the frequency of cleaning and focusing on high-touch areas like staff lockers, storage rooms, all back offices and staff offices.
  • Pre-order Breakfast or Room Service to avoid Buffets