More than 130 tour operators in Prince Edward Island are participating in the new Safe Haven industry health and safety certification program.
Created in response to COVID-19, the program was launched in March by Tourism PEI and the Association of Tourism Industry PEI (TIAPEI) after two years of development.
Derrick Hoare is the owner of The Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI, and as a Board Member of Tourism PEI, he helped create the Safe Haven program.
“The idea behind the program is to give guests and customers an increased sense of health, safety and hygiene,” he said.
“It all started with COVID and we wanted to give people the feeling that Prince Edward Island is doing its best to become a leader in tourism, health and safety,” said Hoare. “I think guests are still looking for that enhanced sense of cleanliness, and they always will be.”
“I think the time to prepare is not in crisis mode when the next wave of something happens. I think participating in the Safe Haven program will better prepare the operators.”
The Table is one of 20 fully certified businesses participating in the Safe Haven program.
Hoare said it took 10 to 12 hours to complete the necessary steps for certification — doing the online component and then creating policy binders and checklists for the restaurant.
“Look carefully at what you are already doing, what are the principles of a safe haven, where you can be given, or anything you need to improve. Writing some formalized policies and checklists and then training the staff,” Hoare said.
“What we found is that we were doing pretty much, I would say, about 95 percent of what was in the guidelines. We just tightened up some things and made them more visible to the staff.”
Hoare said he has questions from some of the island’s tour operators.
“I think there is some concern about how long it will take, especially during the tourist season,” he said.
“I would say it takes some time. But you, for the most part, are already doing it.”
Hoare said some visitors have already noticed the new signage because he put a Safe Haven sticker on The Table’s front door.
“I take the time to explain to them what this program is and why we made it, and they are very pleased that we have taken this extra step,” said Hoare.