Clean and safe certification: a must to host tourists in new normal

As of now, around 2,500 tourism personnel, including hoteliers, have been given certification to operate

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) in collaboration with various agencies like the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) hosted the final phase of the clean and safe certification training for tour operators, tour guides and hoteliers this week.

The training, which provided a comprehensive understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as protection and safety measures, was designed for a wide range of tourism stakeholders.

The Director General of TCB, Dorji Dhradhul said, “The clean and safe certification is to enable tourism establishments to demonstrate that they are safe, clean and ready to serve the tourist.”

He added that the employees under different tourism sectors like hoteliers, guides and operators have been trained on health and safety protocols.

This certification is a crucial step in the overall preparation for the eventual reopening of the destination (Bhutan) to international travelers.

Meanwhile, the preparation for the reopening of tourism has already started with various hotels going under major renovation and hiring additional staff.

TCB’s Director General said tourism is crucial to Bhutan and that the country needs to begin attracting tourists, but only after thorough preparation and clean and safe certification.

“Clean and safe certification is a mandatory course that every tourism stakeholders attend and if someone doesn’t have the certification, then they won’t be allowed to host tourists,” he said.

One of the key components of the certification is that the tourism stakeholders must deliver a simple, easy, health and safe experience for all the visitors. The components of the course also consist of basic health protocols of Covid-19, and the Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) for all those working for the industry.

“Tour operators, guides and key staff of accommodation providers must attend the training either virtually or face to face depending on the situation,” said the TCB official.

Meanwhile, the preparation to host tourists during this fall season has already kick started.

The hotels, which have collaborated during the Covid-19 crisis with the health ministry by becoming a ‘quarantine facility’, are now returning to their normal activity with security guarantee and working on protocols to adapt to the new needs derived from the pandemic.

According to an official from the Hotels and Restaurant Association of Bhutan (HRAB), the hotels which were used as quarantine centers will be disinfected and safe with all the employees practicing general preventive measures.

In addition, hotels are also advised to ensure adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and maintain an adequate number of rooms for isolation of guests infected with Covid-19.

According to the TCB, it will conduct a regular monitoring of the hotels.

According to the Vice -Chairman of the Guide Associations of Bhutan (GAB), Phub Tshering, the first and second phases have already been completed and it was out of 36 where participants needed to score 31 in order to be certified.

“But now that marks have been adjusted to 31, the participants need to achieve 20 as passing marks. GAB has also encouraged individuals to participate since the TCB will keep track of attendance and monitor when tourism begins,” he said.

Meanwhile, the first batch of 34 tourists visited Bhutan after the nationwide lockdown on April 2.

The TCB has so far issued certification to 672 tour operators, 1,324 tour guides, 151 star rated hotels, 54 village home stays and 17 restaurants after clean and safe certification training.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu