This week Backcountry Journeys will run its first photography tour since COVID-19 sent the globe to a screeching halt back in March. As we do so we are proud to announce that BCJ has received the official ‘Safe Travels’ stamp, and certification, from the World Travel & Tourism Council.
What exactly does this mean? To receive this designation, Backcountry Journeys developed and submitted a COVID-19 protocol and procedural plan to the World Travel & Tourism Council, which is a global authority on the economic and social contribution of travel and tourism. Those plans were reviewed and approved, which granted us the ‘Safe Travels’ stamp from the organization.
COVID-19 has drastically altered life for everyone, the travel industry was hit hard. Choosing when travel, and joining our tours is certainly a personal choice, however, as we begin to offer tours once again, we do so with our focus on creating the safest environment possible so as to enable our guests to safely enjoy themselves. The ‘Safe Travels’ stamp emphasizes the efficacy of our new safety approach.
The following will outline our COVID-19 Procedures:
WHAT WE ARE DOING
COVID-19 is a dynamic situation, progressing and changing all the time, which requires much care and thoughtfulness from everyone. Backcountry Journeys is working hard to put things into place so that we can bring our best to you in the safest environment possible. What this will ultimately mean is that there will be some cosmetic differences to our tours. Please know these changes are being made with care and consideration towards the well-being of everyone involved, and that our core product, a seamless adventure travel experience where we handle the details so you can focus on photography, will remain the same.
Backcountry Journeys continues to actively monitor and will implement guidelines recommended by health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) when we once again begin running our Tours & Workshops.
While our tours generally do not include a great deal of equipment and gear sharing, we will be implementing increased cleaning and sanitizing practices, per CDC guidelines, on anything and everything used during our tours. This applies to any and all communal and shared workplace spaces, any trip-supplied gear, and on vehicles (if transportation is provided by BCJ).
All items used in conjunction with any Wilderness-Camping Tours, including (but not limited to) tents, sleeping pads, cooking utensils, and any associated gear will receive increased, and intense cleaning and sanitizing.
Guests will be required to bring any face-covering they prefer and their own hand sanitizer. Backcountry Journeys will have a supply of both on hand in case anyone should forget theirs.
Backcountry Journeys guides will complete a self-health check before every trip, including checking their temperature and considering any symptoms. Any guide or guest who has been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, or who has experienced any flu-like symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, body aches/chills, the recent loss of taste or smell) within 14 days of the scheduled trip departure, will not be permitted to join a tour.
DURING TRIP PROCEDURES
Physical distancing (minimum of 6 feet) will be practiced unless direct staff/guest interaction is essential, in which case both the staff and guest will be required to wear face masks, if able.
Hand sanitizer will be available at all times. Each guest will be responsible for the disposal of personal tissues, baby wipes, sanitizing wipes, or any other item of biohazard concern.
While we typically eat many meals together in restaurants, we will make some small changes to this going forward. Expect your trip to incorporate more picnics, and breakfasts on-the-go (when possible), in an attempt to limit group gatherings at indoor restaurants. We will choose outdoor seating, and limit the number of people at each table, when possible. Our guides are certified in food handling safety, and for 2020 this training will be enhanced to include pertinent information on CDC & WHO safety guidelines. Guides will wear masks and disposable gloves at all times during any food prep. Guests will not be allowed to help with these activities.
If guides or guests experience any flu-like symptoms during a trip they will be physically distanced from the rest of the group, and from any community spaces or items. Backcountry Journeys will consult with the local managing agency for guidance with suggested management of the situation and potential evacuation of the affected individual(s). If a guide is in the position of providing direct care to an affected guest, he/she will also be physically distanced from the rest of the group for the remainder of the trip.
As previously stated, increased cleaning and sanitizing efforts will be applied to all communal spaces and to all trip gear returning to any Backcountry Journeys’ warehouse.
All guides and/or guests, who develop flu-like symptoms 14 days post-trip will be asked to contact Backcountry Journeys to inform us of their symptoms. If informed that anyone associated with a trip has experienced any flu-like symptoms, we will contact all other staff and guests from that trip to inform them.
As we continue to navigate the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, Backcountry Journeys understands the decision about when to begin traveling again is a personal one. As such, we want you to know that what matters most to us is that you feel comfortable when you do choose to travel with us once again.
Click here for our more on Backcountry Journeys COVID-19 operating procedures.
Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin. His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special. Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image.
Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world.
As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals.
You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com