Cottage owners lead the way with guest vaccination policy

Some businesses are putting plans in place for a post-pandemic future.

COVID-19 has changed the future of travel, and as the tourism industry works to recover, some businesses are making plans for post-pandemic processes and protocols. 

Working towards pandemic recovery, many accommodation providers are preparing to make proof of COVID-19 vaccination a booking requirement, with this adding to existing safety measures. 

The policy is set to align with vaccine requirements being employed by many businesses in European countries, where post-pandemic travel has already begun. It is hoped that the requirement will enable accommodation businesses to operate without fear of lockdowns or COVID-19 transmission. 

So far, industry associations have not created a visitor economy roadmap through pandemic-related changes, leaving businesses to establish their own COVID-19 policies and pandemic recovery plans. 

At Elm Cottage Tumut, a leader in the NSW regional accommodation sector, owners David and Deborah have taken matters into their own hands, setting new standards for COVID-19 vaccination. 

“This may impact on our business model, but we believe that by implementing this policy, we are providing a duty of care for both our staff and our customers,” Mr Sheldon said. “It is the future. There are already discussions about COVID-19 vaccination passports afloat, and we want to be in line with health trends that are occurring worldwide.” 

At Elm Cottage, with other accommodation businesses to follow, guests will be required to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination upon booking. At some providers, the policy could begin as soon as lockdown restrictions begin to ease. 

Vaccination is set to become a mandate at a number of tourism-adjacent businesses, including Qantas and Ovolo, where staff and travellers will soon need to provide proof of vaccination, potentially via a digital vaccine passport system. 

“The immediate future of tourism and hospitality depends on high vaccination rates,” said Ovolo founder and CEO Girish Jhunjhnuwala.  

Still, no clear vaccine policy has been provided by state of federal government authorities. Instead, tourism operators are left to establish their own systems and protocols to ensure the safety of guests. 

“We not only wish to keep our Elm Cottage guests safe. We want to keep our region safe, and this is our roadmap forward,” said Mr Sheldon. 

This decision is supported by major tourism bodies, including Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA)

“Vaccines will be our road out of the mess we’re in,” said Michael Johnson, CEO of TAA, who said that if vaccination offered a road to earlier opening and recovery, it would be embraced by struggling businesses. 

“We’re in the business of being hospitable,” he said, stating that such business could be a COVID risk if not mitigated by vaccine policies.

According to Mr Johnson, vaccines may offer a solution to preventing COVID-19 transmission in tourism and accommodation settings, ensuring the safety of staff and guests as businesses return to work. 

With COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions causing major revenue losses for tourism providers, many operators are eager to pursue any policy that enables guests to return to tourism and hospitality businesses.

Supported by a number of industry bodies, including Tourism Australia and the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), vaccination, it seems, is the key to pandemic recovery, enabling travel to resume and guests to return to their favourite accommodation providers. 

Other articles:

Are you vaccinated? How COVID has changed travel for good

Ovolo pledges a vaccination pact

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