Safety is critically important to travel—something SYTA stresses to its members and those they support. It’s even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic halted travel. Carylann Assante, CEO of SYTA and the SYTA Youth Foundation, offers insight on SYTA’s efforts.
How does SYTA promote safe travel?
Traveling students and youth safely is our No. 1 priority. Our numerous resources help members develop safe travel practices. Our education sessions on topics important to members and the industry help them navigate current travel situations.
For members are several safety-specific guides correlating to SYTA’s Certified Student Travel Organization certification and the standards organizations must meet to certify. Example topics are how to develop a crisis response plan, hotel safety, child abuse prevention plan and motorcoach safety. CSTO certification educates travel organizations on administration of safety and risk management procedures. SYTA developed a guide for traveling safely amongst a pandemic—policies and procedures to help students and families understand the importance the industry places on safe, healthy travel—that provides resources from industry partners and suggestions on how to provide the safest experience.
How does SYTA manage the myriad travel safety updates and news?
We continually monitor the travel industry and resources from all organizations. Ever-changing travel safety news takes constant attention to ensure we provide members current, relevant information. Our safety committee establishes quality and safety resources for members and their travelers. This committee is passionate about student and youth travel and wants to ensure the safest experience when we travel again. Our website has several educator-specific resources. We continually post resources beneficial to our industry, to help members and educators safely travel.
What resources are available to educators and others leading student travel?
Our COVID-19 toolkit for educators shows the student travel experience planning process, FAQs specific to the current travel situation, and what the industry is doing to help them travel safely. A trip-planning process infographic helps educators understand the time and process. SYTA.org has many relevant articles and safe travel research data.
Where could readers find further travel safety information?
See www.syta.org/travel-tools/ and https://syta.org/category/news/, along with https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ for motorcoach safety, https://www.cdc.gov/ for government safety regulations, and https://www.nih.gov/ for health services information.
What should be travelers’ top safety concerns going into 2021?
Safety and risk management are top priority. Educators must address specific COVID-19 guidelines and safety procedures, based on school requirements and their destination’s local and federal regulations.
How could groups optimize travel safety?
Educators and tour operators should openly discuss safety and risk management procedures, including crisis response and crisis communication plans and who’s responsible for contacting families, school, and emergency services, if needed. In the safety guide SYTA will distribute to educators are questions and tips to consider when planning student travel. Educators can optimize travel safety by setting safety expectations with everyone in their group. Ensure your group understands and are prepared to adhere to the safety standards. Determine if your school has health and safety travel practices. Ensure your tour operator is aware of these expectations and can integrate them into your trip.