Columbus Among the First Cities to Pursue Global Cleanliness Accreditation

As the U.S. begins slowly reopening for business with the easing of COVID-19 lockdowns, Experience Columbus is already preparing for the eventual return of large social gatherings that typically mark the summer season.

The destination marketing organization is coordinating efforts among its partners to pursue the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s GBAC STAR accreditation, which represents the gold standard certification for facilities preparedness and the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation for facilities.

Experience Columbus is among the nation’s first organizations to head such a collaborative, citywide effort toward securing GBAC STAR for its partners, with at least one participant from each of its industry sectors (event venues, transportation, lodging and attractions) having already committed to achieving the accreditation. Notably, Columbus’ public bus system becomes the first in the country undertaking to secure the certification.

“GBAC STAR provides third-party validation for facilities to demonstrate that they implement strict protocols for bio-risk situations,” said GBAC Executive Director, Patty Olinger. “As organizations across Columbus achieve GBAC STAR accreditation for their facilities, they will help distinguish Columbus as forward-thinking and prepared to foster clean, safe and healthy environments for visitors and residents.”

GBAC STAR accreditation process—administered by GBAC, a division of the worldwide cleaning industry association, ISSA—requires demonstration of and compliance with the program’s 20 specific elements, which range from risk assessment and mitigation strategies to personnel training, personal protective equipment applications, infectious disease prevention protocols, and emergency preparedness and response planning.

Several of the Ohio capital city’s high-volume, visitor-focused facilities have already signed on to actively pursue the GBAC STAR certification, including John Glenn Columbus International Airport, Greater Columbus Convention Center, Nationwide Arena, Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), the Hilton Columbus Downtown, Hyatt Regency Columbus, Hyatt Place Columbus/OSU, Courtyard Columbus OSU, The Grand Event Center, and Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

The new initiative is being implemented as part of Experience Columbus’ new “Live Forward” marketing campaign, which launched in early May 2020 with the aim of restoring the destination to tourism, both amid and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 85 Central Ohio businesses and organizations have signed the “Live Forward Pledge” to place health and safety at the forefront of their operations, now more than ever. Experience Columbus is encouraging partners, particularly those who typically host larger meetings and events, to take their commitment to the next level by pursuing the GBAC STAR accreditation.

Sarah Townes, Experience Columbus’ vice president of marketing, said, “As many of our partners prepare to eventually reopen their doors to large events, particularly in the meetings and conventions industry, they will be able to do so in a way that inspires confidence in visitors by securing this global gold standard in cleanliness.”

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