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After the period of confinement imposed on the country and the whole world by the new coronavirus pandemic, the economy is starting to gradually reopen, and as so tourism resumption is also being prepared.
In order to reinforce visitors confidence in the destination, tourism players have been studying the necessary changes and planning new procedures to be incorporated in their activity to provide a health safety environment to both their customers and employees.
These circumstances require companies to be very creative in the reorganization of their facilities and operations, but also to be able to convey to their customers that they are capable and committed to meet the new demands in terms of hygienic safety.
The main measure that has been generally and gradually adopted by companies in tourism sector is the adhesion to the stamp “Clean & Safe” created by Turismo de Portugal (the National Authority for Tourism). This stamp requires companies to implement an internal protocol that, according to the recommendations of the Directorate-General for Health, ensures the necessary hygiene to avoid risks of contagion and guarantees safe procedures for the operation of tourist activities.
The very detailed requirements, and just to name a few, include: training employees for the new internal protocol, providing information to guests about this protocol and basic precautions related to Covid, offering employees and guests individual protection equipment, mpelmenting new procedures for facilities sanitization and cleaning, and clothes laundering.
Hotels and other accommodations, tourism operators, and travel agencies, that are officially registered, can apply to this certification by submitting a “Declaration of Commitment”, affirming to comply with its dispositions, which differ by type of establishment and tourism activity. Besides, the adhering establishments will be subject to random audits promoted by Turismo de Portugal.
At this point, more than 3,000 entities have already been recognized as Clean & Safe establishments. (It is possible to check which companies have already obtained this certification, by consulting the platform of the National Tourism Registry - Registo Nacional do Turismo)
Among those, are several of our Best Of Wine Tourism awardees, such as: Casa do Rio Wine Hotel, Quinta do Vallado, Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Quinta da Pacheca, Six Senses Douro Valley, Carmo’s Boutique Hotel, Monverde Wine Experience Hotel, The Yeatman Hotel, Cálem Cellars, and many others.
As an example, we share 2 testimonies regarding the measures undertaken to cope with the “new normal”:
Quinta da Pacheca already publicized their reopening on May 18th, under the motto “we are back, in safety”. “We are preparing The Wine House Hotel of Quinta da Pacheca to receive wine lovers again, complying with all the rules established by the competent authorities for the reopening of the hotels and restaurants.
(…) we have the ideal conditions to this profile. Never as now we appreciate this place surrounded by vineyards, with wide open spaces linking to the Douro River and the landscape. Here you will have an unforgettable experience, immersing yourself in the local traditions, walking or cycling, having picnics in the vineyards with the traditional food of the region.
The hygiene conditions were strengthened, the staff received health training and in all details the distance between people was safeguarded. Maximum security for maximum leisure.”
Quinta do Vallado told us their first decision was to adhere to “Clean & Safe” in both hotels and to create a contingency plan with a manual of procedures on how they should work from now on. “We are already preparing the opening of our wine tourism and we will do it in stages and with all the security required by the authorities.
We already opened the street wine shop on May 9th, on the 15th we will open the smallest and most exclusive Hotel Casa do Rio with only 6 rooms and 2 villas and at the end of May we will open the Wine Hotel of Quinta do Vallado with just 13 rooms.
The visits and wine tasting service is yet to be defined, but we will reduce the number of visitors per group to maintain social isolation and better manage to comply with all imposed rules.
We are also creating vacation packages with suggested programs around nature and outdoors activities. We are designing promotions for bookings of 3, 5 or 7 nights in our Hotels.”
A number of requirements was also set for restaurants, cafes and similar establishments. During the lockdown, they could only operate for take-away or home delivery, but will be allowed to reopen their doors from May 18th, provided they observe the guidelines defined by the Directorate-General of Health, namely: reduction of the maximum capacity of the establishment, thus ensuring the recommended physical distance of 2 meters between people, privilegie the terraces, pre-booked-seats, and follow official standards of cleaning and desinfection of spaces and equipments.
Finally, the regional entity of Tourism of Porto and North of Portugal, along with Porto Tourism Association, are also preparing a plan for the recovery of tourism sector, to be implemented next June, based on three axes.
According to them, firstly the objective is to rethink the touristic products, aware of tourists’ new needs, who now will privilegie privacy, security, smaller groups, nature and low density territories.
It also implies a different strategy for promoting the destination, which will have its focus on safety. The target will be, in a first stage, domestic tourism and Spain, and then the international market.
A third axis of this plan, will be developed in 2021 and 2022, consisting in identifying relevant cultural events, that may attract foreign tourists to the territory.