Experience Oxfordshire, the Destination Management Organistion (DMO) for Oxfordshire is calling businesses and stakeholders to work together so that Oxfordshire can be recognised as one of the safest destinations to visit in England post Covid-19.
The call for action follows the announcement earlier this week that much of the tourism and hospitality sector will be able to open (subject to conditions) from 4th July, in addition to today’s launch of the ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard self-assessment and supporting mark and the ‘Know Before You Go’ public information campaign from national agency VisitEngland.
The ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and supporting mark means businesses can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment, and have checked that they have the required processes in place. The scheme is free to join and open to all businesses across the industry.
Businesses across the UK are assessed according to their respective national guidance including the social distancing and cleanliness protocols that must be in place. In England businesses align with the UK Government’s official guidance for the sector including ‘Working Safely during COVID-19: Visitor Economy’. An ‘alert’ system ensures that businesses signed up to the standard are notified of any changes to the official guidance going forward. A call-handling service provides support and assessors will also carry-out random spot-checks to ensure adherence.
Experience Oxfordshire has been providing extensive business support and advice to visitor economy businesses across Oxfordshire during the Covid-19 pandemic and have been lobbying for clear guidance and safety standards from national government to enable businesses to reopen safely and as soon as practically possible.
Following the announcements this week Experience Oxfordshire have taken swift leadership on disseminating information to their partners and stakeholders and have requested support from local authorities to ensure the city and county roll out the scheme to the majority of visitor economy businesses across Oxfordshire, who will need to work through the self-assessment to receive the supporting mark.
Chief Executive of Experience Oxfordshire, Hayley Beer-Gamage said: “We are delighted that the sector finally has some guidance on how and when they are able to open. It will still be a challenge for many businesses, and we will do all we can to support them and lobby for further support. In order for Oxfordshire to reopen again safely and instil consumer confidence it is important that we get as many businesses as possible accredited with the supporting mark ‘We’re Good to Go’. We have a great destination to visit and want to welcome back locals and visitors in an environment they feel safe and comfortable in. As a globally recognised destination we should be aspiring to the be recognised as one of the safest destinations to visit in England post Covid-19. We hope businesses and local authorities will work with us, and support us where necessary, to achieve this ambition which is important for the recovery of the visitor economy.”
Whilst many businesses such as retail and parks and gardens have been able to open up already and have already developed their own detailed safety protocols, Experience Oxfordshire is urging all of these businesses to also go through the self-assessment scheme to ensure that there is a minimum level of standard and consistency across Oxfordshire that ensures we are comparable and remain competitive with other destinations across the country.
Speaking about the launch of the self-assessment scheme VisitEngland Director Patricia Yates said;
“With millions of jobs and local economies across the country reliant on tourism it is essential that businesses can get up and running as soon as the respective Government advice allows to capture the peak British summer season. We want visitors to be able to enjoy their holidays and to support businesses to be confident they have the correct procedures in place. Our priority is to make sure tourism rebounds to once again become one of the most successful sectors of the UK economy and this ‘ring of confidence’ is a crucial step on the industry’s road to rebuilding.”
Alongside the industry standard VisitEngland have also launched a ‘Know Before You Go’ public information campaign to support tourism in England as businesses start to re-open, reassuring visitors as restrictions are lifted by checking about what it is safe to do and when and sign-posting to information about destinations and available services before travelling. This website is already signposting to the Experience Oxfordshire consumer website as an essential information source for visiting Oxford and Oxfordshire. The website www.experienceoxfordshire.org will also feature the ‘We’re Good to Go’ supporting mark on the partner businesses that achieve this standard.