Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has announced the resumption of desert tours and related activities in the emirate with strict implementation of the precautionary measures and guidelines issued for desert tours and Sharjah tour operators. This latest decision comes as part of the efforts to resume the tourism activities in the emirate and bring them to a normal pace by adopting the highest standards in prevention and safety practices, health protocols, and the implementation of government directives on national health and safety of tourists, visitors, employees, citizens, and residents of Sharjah.
H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA commented that the decision is a step forward in the process of the gradual return of all tourism activities in Sharjah in accordance with the larger plan and in close coordination with all relevant partners from the government and private sectors. Al Midfa highlighted that adherence to the precautionary measures is key as it provides a foundation to rebuild the momentum of activities in the tourism sector while at the same time ensuring the health of employees and tourists alike, and thereby establishing Sharjah's position as a safe and preferred tourist destination.
Al Midfa added: “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.”
“With the commitment of tour operators and desert tours establishments to follow the health protocols and implement the highest preventive measures and precautions, we are confident that we will move to the next stage of our recovery plan. We urge everyone to cooperate with us at SCTDA by putting into practice the guidelines that ensure the safety, health, and security of everyone. We will continue to implement the safety procedures that will help resume the tourism and leisure activities in Sharjah in line with local and international best practices,” Al Midfa concluded.
The SCTDA has launched a guide for precautionary measures related to Covid-19 for the return of desert tours (Safari) and a guide for Sharjah tour operators, which details the precautionary measures for companies to enable tour operators and desert tour operators to monitor and ensure compliance on health and safety guidelines and instructions. 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 instructions, as well as adhering to the specified vehicle capacity, the implementation of social distancing procedures and following the specified number of participants within groups, and any other rules by relevant government authorities.
Accordingly, the highest levels of hygiene and sterilization procedures must be followed, and employees must adhere to all the requirements specified by the Ministry of Health 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.
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 organizing 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, the most important of which is 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 sterilization within the premises.
Several requirements have been set during the tours. First being that the number of passengers should not exceed the vehicle’s capacity and a distance of at least 2 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.