Gloria Salinas, Managing Director, Economic Development
What will it take for the public to travel once again?
VisitDallas is hoping a seal of approval on places such as hotels that show they comply with industry best practices in cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention will restore consumer confidence in travel and tourism once again.
The Dallas tourism marketing arm is leading the charge, alongside the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District (DTPID), for the City of Dallas’ Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center, arts and cultural institutions, and hotels to be among the first city destinations to receive a clean and safe accreditation from the world’s leading cleaning industry association.
The Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s (GBAC) new GBAC STAR facility accreditation program has established a protocol to assist public venues, including offices, convention centers, hotels, and stadiums, with proper work practices, protocols, procedures, and systems to control risks associated with infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. The GBAC STAR’s accreditation process assesses a facility’s preparedness and provides staff with training for cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention.
The program comes at a time when restoring consumer confidence in the travel and tourism industry is going to take trust.
“People aren’t going to travel until they feel safe,” said Brad Kent, Senior Vice President of Sales at VisitDallas. “The GBAC STAR will become a trust mark more than a trademark, and when we see it, we will recognize a level of trust and comfort.”
Kent is leading the initiative to provide support and funding to about 120 member hotels in Dallas’ tourism public improvement district to begin the 30-day accreditation process, as well as provide training scholarships for city-owned arts and culture institutions.
“If we’re going to have a welcoming environment, then we need to have a clean and healthy city,” Kent said. “And we want to help the city be the best place for residents, visitors, and businesses, and providing education on a higher standard of cleanliness is the key.”
With 40 years in the tourism industry, Kent said the pandemic’s long-term effects on the travel and tourism industry will require hotels, attractions, and cities to adhere to higher standards and protocols for cleaning and disinfecting properties and visitor attractions.
“We are very committed that being clean, pathogen-free, and disinfected as a city is really important, not only for tourism but for the community, for residents to feel comfortable going to restaurants and cultural centers again,” he said. “Proper cleaning protocols will be the longtail of the pandemic, and the tourist experience is about so much more than the convention center. VisitDallas is really trying to get all businesses involved.”
The Dallas Independent School District, Texas Restaurant Association, and Hotel Association of North Texas are several of the organizations Kent is working to sign up and include in the GBAC STAR accreditation process.
“Its been great to see the outpouring of interest from the school district and other organizations,” he said. “This really has to be a citywide and regional effort because people want to know they are visiting establishments and a city that is taking precautions.”
While many hotels and businesses have cleaning standards, Kent said GBAC’s non-bias third party establishment of protocols for cleaning and review of a facilities process creates another level of trust in travel that is important to the industry as it tries to recover from the pandemic.
“As I think about my family and if they were traveling, I would want to know they were safe. If they saw the GBAC STAR on the facility, whether a hotel or gas station, I would feel more comfortable with them there knowing the site is cleaning to a higher standard,” he said.
For more information, visit the Global Biorisk Advisory Council STAR Facilities Accreditation and Application.