CATO, USTOA & ETOA launch standardized safety guidelines for tour operators

CATO, USTOA & ETOA launch safety guidelines for tour operators

TORONTO — Tour operators across Canada, the U.S. and Europe now have a clear set of health and sanitization guidelines to follow that will help them ensure the safety of their guests.

Developed by the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO), the European Tourism Association (ETOA) and the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), the brand new TOURCARE Guidelines for Tour Operators includes recommended procedures for tour operators to provide protection for travellers against the transmission of COVID-19. These span across all touch-points of a trip, apply to staff, suppliers and passengers, and include sanitization procedures issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

In a joint statement, CATO Executive Director Pierre LePage, USTOA President and CEO Terry Dale, and ETOA Chief Executive Tom Jenkins, said: “By their very nature, tour products are complex, involving many different variables that are under the watchful eye of the tour operator, yet not every element fully under their control. We felt that our members – and the tour operator industry as a whole – would benefit from one set of guidelines developed with their specific needs top-of-mind.

“The TOURCARE Guidelines will help our tour operator members fulfill their mission to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their passengers while continuing to provide exceptional travel experiences in destinations around the world.”

Each association has shared the TOURCARE Guidelines with all tour operator members, along with the TC logo as a mark of compliance to display on websites and other communication with suppliers, passengers and travel agents.

Here are the full set of guidelines:




  • Promote frequent hand washing among staff and passengers.
  • Provide hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol to be available for passengers and staff at all possible times.
  • Recommend the use of face masks and gloves to staff when interacting with passengers where appropriate.
  • Promote the use of face masks to passengers.
  • Exercise physical distancing, where viable and in line with the latest official guidance or requirements, including motor coaches and other modes of transportation.
  • Train all staff that may interact with passengers to ensure they are familiar and compliant with these guidelines and those set out by the public health authorities mentioned above.




  • Comply with applicable government and health authority requirements as well as these guidelines.
  • Employ touchless solutions when possible – and reduce touch points at operational levels, such as ticketing, payments, identification, check-in, etc.
  • Where possible, use face masks and gloves when interacting with passengers.
  • Sanitize high-touch areas frequently using products and disinfectants approved by the EPA and local health authorities for effectiveness against COVID-19.




  • Passengers may be required to declare prior to departure that if they are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive or have been in contact with a COVID-19 patient within 14 days of departure.
  • Passengers will be advised of and asked to adhere to recommended hygiene procedures, such as traveling with and wearing a face mask and/or gloves when asked to do so, or limiting physical contact wherever possible.
  • Prior to departure, passengers may be asked to complete a pre-boarding questionnaire or declaration confirming they have familiarized themselves with health and safety guidelines and requirements related to their tour




  • Have personal protection equipment, such as face masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes available for passengers, as needed, or advise passengers where such items may be required for their tour.
  • Provide oversight of and ensure compliance with the TOURCARE Guidelines for Tour Operators related to staff, suppliers, and passengers.
  • Provide a downloadable leaflet to all passengers describing these guidelines and recommendations or direct passengers to where such information is available.
  • Communicate the health and sanitization procedures passengers will encounter throughout their trip as far as reasonably possible.