Responsible TourismReckitt's Blake McKeown speaks about the lingering issues surrounding Covid-19 that needs to be addressed for travellers' reassurance.

Covid is not over, and neither is the need for hygiene

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Especially in Asian countries, travellers are still masking up in the airports to mitigate the risk of contracting the virus.
Especially in Asian countries, travellers are still masking up in the airports to mitigate the risk of contracting the virus.

Though much of the ill-effects the pandemic wrought is mostly behind us now, the risk of contracting Covid-19 while abroad still lingers in the back of travellers' minds and continues to affect some of their decision-making. To reassure travellers of their safety, Blake McKeown, commercial director AMEA, Business Solutions at Reckitt contributed his opinions on how the travel sector as a whole can work together to do so.

Blake McKeown, commercial director AMEA, business solutions, Reckitt
Blake McKeown, commercial director AMEA, business solutions, Reckitt

How has the science and understanding of hygiene and safety changed in the new era of travel? 

The pandemic has reinforced the importance of upholding hygiene standards and safety measures, especially in the travel and tourism industries. Airports and airlines, with their large volumes of people transiting from all corners of the globe, are often seen as higher risk when it comes to transmission of infectious diseases. 

As the world learns to live with Covid-19, new and emerging pathogens (disease causing bacteria and viruses) will continue to appear. Therefore, hygiene practices and protocols remain of paramount importance. 

Are there still lingering misconceptions around hygiene and safety (e.g., wiping down, mask wearing) in post-Covid travel landscape?

One of the key lingering misconceptions that people have is that one hygiene measure is more or less effective than another and so if you remove one but keep another you will still provide the same level of protection. 

No one hygiene measure may work in isolation but, by using the ‘swiss cheese’ model of multiple interventions, hand hygiene, surface disinfection and other hygiene measures can work in combination to reduce the risk as much as possible.

In this regard, the travel and aviation industries play a crucial role in educating and guiding the public on proper hygiene and safety measures, given that places such as airports and airlines see massive human traffic volume every day. 

What do travel agents and meeting planners need to look out for, whether at a destination, hotel, attraction, or event venue?

During the pandemic, the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions), industry, alongside the travel and aviation sectors were badly affected. 

Heightened understanding around the risks large scale events posed, often being held in enclosed spaces with large groups of people from around the world led to a dramatic fall in such events. The risks to executives attending these events always existed, and businesses will likely have taken precautions previously, but the increase in the number of infections and how easily these now spread has brought a greater spotlight on hygiene protection protocols. 

In this new era of travel, with large in person events restarting, hygiene and safety remain paramount. Travel agents and meeting planners need to stay informed of the ever-changing regulations and the latest hygiene protocols to help ensure that events can run smoothly with suitable hygiene standards in place. 

One of the first large global in person events was the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. As Official Hygiene Partner, Reckitt’s Dettol developed scientifically backed hygiene protocols and messages to help break the possible chain of infections for athletes, officials and visitors. 

Given the manpower constraints that’s afflicting the tourism and hospitality sectors right now, do you have any advice how they could overcome these challenges while keeping hygiene at the forefront of their service and operations?

Targeted hygiene, using the right disinfectant products at the right time in the right places is a great way to maximise efficiencies whilst minimising infection risk. Dettol hygiene protocols are built to support businesses in knowing when and where to disinfect the key hotspots and moments to break the chain of infection. 

This approach ensures cleaning staff are not wasting precious time and resources cleaning and disinfecting places and spaces where there is no value or impact. Multi-purpose and ready-to-use products can also help drive efficiencies as cleaning staff no longer have to spend time diluting chemicals or changing between products.

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