Sharjah: Desert safari tours have resumed in Sharjah while following COVID-19 precautions, as part of a wider plan to restart all tourism activities, it was announced on Wednesday.
Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) announced the resumption of desert tours and related activities in the emirate under strict precautionary measures. SCTDA chairman Khalid Jasim Al Midfa said: “We continue to work closely with all concerned entities to intensify our joint efforts to maintain public health and safety as we take new steps to launch and implement various major initiatives aimed at enabling the recovery of the tourism sector from the repercussions of the pandemic and revive growth. We are implementing a strict schedule of inspection of establishments and activities through regular field visits under the supervision of an integrated team of SCTDA inspectors to ensure the issued precautionary measures are being followed and limit the spread of COVID-19.”
SCTDA has launched a guide for COVID-19 precautionary measures for the return of desert safaris and a guide for Sharjah tour operators. The two guides contain a set of general guidelines, including exemptions, such as people with any type of chronic diseases or respiratory diseases as per Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) instructions. There are also guidelines on vehicle capacity, social distancing procedures, number of participants within groups, among others.
What are the rules?
The “highest levels” of hygiene and sterilisation procedures must be followed and employees must adhere to all the requirements specified by MoHAP before entering the facility and interacting with tourists, in addition to following all the health and safety guidelines for staff accommodations and transportation facilities. Moreover, inspection tests and temperature checks must be conducted for everyone, including passengers and drivers. Food and beverages are not allowed inside the vehicle, instructions about safety measures must be provided in every vehicle, and a comprehensive and thorough disinfection of vehicles and public areas should be implemented.
Several requirements have been set during the tours. The number of passengers should not exceed the vehicle’s capacity and a distance of at least two meters must be maintained between people. In addition, signboards must be placed around the vehicle reminding passengers to avoid crowding or gathering in one area and urging them to adhere to health and safety measures. Tour operators are also required to provide a reservation system that enables health authorities to collect information to help trace contacts if necessary, including tour details, sites to be visited, times and dates, contact details for all tourists, in addition to adopting electronic payment methods and following all possible methods to maintain hygiene in tourism facilities, vehicles, equipment, etc.
Inspection and monitoring
The inspection team from the SCTDA examines and monitors the compliance of health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among employees and workplaces of companies involved in organising desert trips and other tour-related activities. The decision to resume tourism and desert tours was made after requesting the involved companies to implement the measures needed to be able to resume operations, such as equipping reception desks with plastic or glass partitions with minimal openings to accept payment transactions and facilitate the use of credit cards, as well as regularly conducting sterilisation within the premises.