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Adventure Travel Health & Safety

So you are thinking about traveling again and want to make sure you’re going to be safe?

Health and Safety has always been important in responsible adventure travel. While no activity can claim to be 100% safe, there are many ways to mitigate risk and adventure travel professionals are experts at that. The COVID-19 pandemic has added a new layer of risk both in daily life and in travel experiences, so the Adventure Travel Trade Association, along with a team of technical experts, created the Adventure Travel COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines using international industry standards, public resources from the CDC, WHO, governments and tour operators. Cleveland Clinic, a world-renowned healthcare provider ranked as a top U.S. hospital in U.S. News & World Report’s “2019-20 Best Hospitals,” informed and advised the team throughout the process. The guidelines provide a common set of actions that can be used by a diverse range of travel businesses across the adventure travel industry. 

Companies and Destinations displaying the ATTA COVID-19 Safety Badge, are stating that they are following these guidelines. ATTA does not verify operator compliance. We are entrusting companies to implement the guidelines correctly before using the badge.

While the current knowledge (July 2020) indicates that the risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others outdoors is reduced when people maintain social distancing, these Guidelines should be undertaken along with compliance with existing destination government guidance and requirements. 

Companies should tailor their actual policies and practices based on their unique operations, applicable laws, regulations, and health standards in their locales, and consult with their own legal, safety, and financial advisors to develop a reopening guide for their situation.

The main principles of the guidelines are to

  • Protect the vulnerable: people and communities.
  • Mitigate risks
    • Symptom screening
    • Enhanced sanitation and hygiene, with a focus on hands.
    • Physical distancing and additional controls
    • Face coverings when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Respond to COVID-19 presence and other emergencies.
  • Include specific actions for trekking, rafting, cycling, and other adventure activities

Click here to view the comprehensive guidelines created for the adventure travel trade

What to expect on your trip

If you choose to travel with a company that is following these guidelines, you may expect some of these precautions on your trip.

  • You may receive waivers and declaration forms with information and questions relevant to COVID-19, such as your isolation habits, testing outcomes, or existence of signs or symptoms prior to the trip. We advise you to adhere to the company’s policy whilst on the trip to include actions such as maintaining distance, respiratory and hand hygiene standards, and being honest with feeling any symptoms to help protect you and those around you. We’re all in this together, so honesty is key!
  • The use of vehicles to transport groups includes a higher degree of COVID-19 transmission risk. Measures to mitigate this risk may include opening vehicle windows, providing space in between passengers and having passengers wear face coverings. Consider the use of face shields or the use of private vehicles for transportation as additional measures. 
  • Despite all measures, there is always the potential for individuals to develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before or during tours. The vast majority of people infected with COVID-19 show minor to no symptoms, however some will go on to develop more serious signs which require admittance to a hospital, or an ICU. For this reason, you may encounter temperature checks and health screenings on your trip. Should you begin to show symptoms on your trip, you should be prepared to isolate or even evacuate. The more remote the activity, the more complex and timely the evacuation. Consideration should be made for manner and method of evacuation. Check to see if  your insurance provider covers this and ask your tour operator about their policies and procedures if this should happen.

How you can prepare

While the companies and destinations you visit are working hard to mitigate risk, you too have an important role in keeping yourself and others safe while you travel.

  • Prior to booking travel, you may consult with your primary care provider and consult local and official advice to determine whether you fall into a vulnerable or high-risk group and should travel or not.
  • An activity that takes place in a popular area may pose a greater risk of social interaction with visitors or activity participants, thus increasing the chance of virus transmission. Where possible you should consider visiting other, off-the-beaten-path destinations.
  • It is recommended that you have valid travel insurance for the destination and trip type on which you are embarking. The pandemic has added additional complexities surrounding insurance as no policy covers all COVID-19 travel risks so check your policy carefully and ensure you understand who will pay for additional costs if incurred.
  • Check on the Company’s terms and conditions and refund and cancellation policies to see if it allows for cancelations due to self assessment, onset of symptoms, or last-minute advice against travel by healthcare providers.
  • Be sure to pack your own face coverings, such as masks, a well tied synthetic or cotton face mask, neck gaiters, or Buffs.
  • Don’t forget to bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer to keep close to you at all times.

It is the priority of the ATTA, its members and those following our guidelines to reopen tourism with traveler safety as a priority. When travelers do their part too, we have the best chance of returning to the adventures we love and supporting the communities that depend on it for their livelihoods. Safe and healthy travels!