The UK holiday rental sector is preparing for a restart next month with new hygiene protocols for self-catering properties and short-term lets.

The measures have been drawn up with the government provisionally earmarking July 4 as the date when certain sectors of the travel and hospitality industry can re-open.

The UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA), the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, Quality in Tourism, the Professional Association of Self-Caterers and the Wales Tourism Alliance have collaborated to develop the scheme.

The new industry cleaning protocols provide “high level principles” to follow in preparing a property correctly for incoming guests and cleaning it during and after their stay. They focus on three main areas:

  • Conducting a risk assessment of each property
  • Recommended cleaning protocols
  • Safely managing contact with guests

The plans have been shared with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and have been submitted to national governments for approval to augment the hospitality guidance developed by UK Hospitality at a national level.

They are supported by a number of the UK’s tourism bodies and are based on guidance provided by official bodies such as the Health & Safety Executive, World Health Organisation and Public Health England.

The STAA believes that the adoption of the new protocols by self-catering properties and short-term lets will ensure the health and safety of guests, hosts and company staff.

Hopes of reopening follow a recent statement by culture secretary Oliver Dowden, who said: I am keen that we get the tourism sector going as rapidly as possible. We have set the ambitious target of 4 July, and if we can do it consistent with public health, we will do so.

“Self-contained accommodation has a lower risk than other areas, so I would hope that that will be at the front of the queue.”

STAA chair Merilee Karr said: “We have a responsibility to reassure guests about the safety of short-term rental accommodation.

“These protocols should provide consumers with the confidence to travel safely to any property that meets them.

“I agree with minister Dowden that short-term rentals which adhere to these cleaning protocols, offer a comparatively low-risk option for customers looking to book a holiday in the current environment.

“For operators and hosts, one of the best steps they can take is to get independently accredited by our STAA industry partner Quality in Tourism, through its Safe, Clean and Legal assessment scheme that will demonstrate to potential guests that they have been independently assessed to meet these standards.”

She added: “There is a unique opportunity for UK holidaymakers to visit UK destinations, including both city and rural destinations.

“With short-term rentals providing socially distanced accommodation and cities being quieter, without the usual hustle and bustle, it’s a great time for people across the country to explore all the UK has to offer.“

Quality in Tourism director Deborah Heather said: “It’s great to be partnering with the industry on these protocols to help everyone in the sector to understand how to welcome guests safely.

“We look forward to working with hosts and management companies to provide the independent quality assessment that guests will be looking for so that they can have the highest degree of confidence that standards are being met.

“Guests will know, for certain, that hosts who are accredited by our Safe, Clean and Legal assessment scheme, which includes Covid-19 cleaning regimes, guidance notes, checklists and risk assessments in conjunction with Environmental Health, will provide a home which is compliant and safe for them and their families.”