As discussed among IORA Member States and dialogue partners on the occasion of the First Core Group on Tourism Meeting which took place virtually on 31 August 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic causes a widespread feeling that tourism will never be the same. For some time, the effects of the pandemic will modify the way we travel and the way we experience destinations. More than ever the public will be aware of the need for more sustainable tourism. In the tourism sector, there will be a growing demand for new skills, new tools and new strategic approaches.

Cruises to restart with new safety tools and mechanisms

The Cruise industry sector is one in which changes are already taking place. Italy has been the first country in which Cruises restarted operating with new rules and mechanisms. We think this is an important step to start regaining market confidence in a sector that – in Italy alone – covers 3% of the national GDP, employs over 120.000 workers and had a turnover of around 45 billion euro. 

Two Italian major players in the cruise sector, Costa Crociere and MSC Cruises, have recently developed health and safety protocols with the support of national Authorities and a team of international experts. In particular, the protocols approved by the Italian independent maritime certification corporation, RINA (Italian Naval Register), provides for strengthened safety measures to protect all passengers and on-board staff as well as the local communities during Port calls.

Research and rule-making as a strategy for recovery

The Italian operational company RINA committed itself to ensuring that all activities carried out at its offices and partners were in compliance with the maximum health safety standards during the Covid-19 emergency.

Since its foundation, as one of the founding members of IACS, RINA has been a strategic instrument of support for economic development in the areas where it operates and thus has participated in technical, research and rule-making groups in different institutional contexts at national and international level. Aim of the company is to cover risks related to loss and/or damage of the hull and rigging of sailing ships, to meet the needs of Italian maritime operators. 

Italian cruise operators as forerunners

For this reason, RINA has recently developed the first innovative certification scheme for management systems to prevent and mitigate the spread of health infections from biological agents, called Biosafety Trust Certification.

The role of this new certification is enhancing a set of best practices to minimize the risks of spreading epidemics in public or private meeting places, namely means of transport, entertainment venues (restaurants, theaters, museums, gyms or swimming pools), accommodation facilities (hotels, cruise ships, conference centers). As forerunners in this process Italian cruise operators have recently obtained the Biosafety Trust Certification from RINA and are now following the safety instructions of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

The focus on Organizational Behavior Management (OBM)

This scheme, based on the systemic approach of ISO standards on management systems, has a particular focus on the analysis of the behaviour of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), the discipline based on scientific laws that explain human behaviour.

The new procedures include a complete health screening for all guests and crew prior to embarkation, protected ashore visits at each destination organized exclusively by the Company (self-guided excursions are not allowed) and specific cleaning and disinfecting procedures. 

Moreover, interpersonal social distancing must be respected while ship’s capacity has been reduced and on-board health services have been reinforced. Bracelets for contact and proximity tracking as well as supplementary insurance are also provided.

A strategic tool to counter the Covid-19 emergency

According to an analysis published by the United Nations trade and development agency, after the health emergency, the coronavirus epidemic will cause a slowdown in the global economy estimated at at least one trillion dollars.

Especially for those sectors that are based on entertainment, the post-Covid-19 economic recovery will need to count on important prevention measures. Biosafety Trust Certification can support companies in adopting those measures, to minimize health risks for employees and customers, providing a strategic tool to counter the Covid-19 emergency. 

Sara Caspani

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