Tour operator is turning a negative into a positive for travelers

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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

As travel companies and groups are increasingly calling on individual travelers to help them slow the spread of Covid-19, one luxury tour operator is providing incentives and tools to encourage clients to do their part.

Overseas Leisure Group this week launched the Responsible Traveler Challenge, which offers a credit to travelers who provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test before their departure.

The company has also partnered with app provider Entrsafe to offer travelers an easy way to evaluate their own exposure, symptoms and risk before and during their travels.

Overseas Leisure Group CEO Felix Brambilla said he developed the program after watching the surge in Covid-19 in Florida, where the company is based.

"After witnessing the shocking acceleration of Covid-19 cases in my hometown caused by a resurgence in tourism, I felt the essential need to put measures in place that ensures travelers take ownership and responsibility for their own risk to others," he said.

Under the program, the company is offering a $250 credit on each booking when all adults in the party test negative for the coronavirus within 72 hours of their departure.

Travelers can apply their credit toward activities, incidentals or restaurants during their trip. They also have the option of donating their credit to Partners in Health, an international health care organization helping global communities and those impacted by Covid-19.

The app will help travelers self-evaluate and "clear" their condition before boarding a plane or checking in to their final destination, Brambilla said. Travelers will also be asked to use the app daily before entering a venue or meeting with a guide.

While stopping short of entering the politically sensitive debate over masks, Brambilla said he hopes the program will "get people to act a little differently."

The program follows calls from the U.S. Travel Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association for travelers to wear masks, among other things, to help slow the spread of the virus.

And this week, Marriott, Hyatt and InterContinental Hotels Group all said they would require masks in all public indoor areas of their hotels.

Likewise, Charles Robertson, CEO of American Cruise Lines, said guests will be required to wear masks in most instances on their ships and excursions as well as when they are wandering the streets of the cities they visit.

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