The city’s international airport, convention center, transportation system, largest hotels and event venues are prepared for the return of larger gatherings and meetings

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In preparation for larger gatherings and the return of meetings and conventions, Columbus was one of the nation’s first destinations to lead a collaborative, citywide effort, announced last May, to help its partners to pursue the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s GBAC STAR™ Accreditation. GBAC STAR is the cleaning industry’s gold standard of prepared facilities and the only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation for such entities. Today, Ohio’s capital announces that eight of the city’s primary visitor touchpoints have achieved GBAC STAR Accreditation with several other partners in active pursuit of the accreditation.

John Glenn Columbus International Airport and the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) were the first Columbus facilities to achieve the GBAC STAR Accreditation—and John Glenn International was among the world’s first three airports to gain accreditation. The Hyatt Regency Columbus, a headquarter hotel of the GCCC, and multiple Hyatt Place properties  are also accredited. Within the past week, Nationwide Arena and Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) achieved their accreditation—and COTA, the city’s public bus system, is the second of its kind in the world to achieve this accreditation. Several more event venues, hotels and attractions are actively pursuing accreditation including the Hilton Columbus Downtown and Arena District Athletic Club.

“Achieving GBAC STAR Accreditation is another testament to our commitment to safely welcoming back visitors. Demonstrating health and safety measures is a vital piece of ensuring consumer confidence and restarting the travel economy,” said Brian Ross, president and CEO of Experience Columbus. “This has been a collective effort, and with each facility and business doing their part to follow stringent cleaning protocols and make safety their first priority, together we’re showing travelers that we’re ready for them.”

The GBAC STAR Accreditation is administered by GBAC, a division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association. The process requires facilities to comply with the program’s 20 elements, which range from risk assessment and mitigation strategies to personal protective equipment and infectious disease prevention practices. At least one partner in every one of Experience Columbus’ industry sectors – event venues, transportation, lodging, attractions – has already secured or is actively pursuing the accreditation, demonstrating the city’s commitment to health and safety in the new normal.

“The pursuit of GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation is a testament to the commitment to making cleaning, disinfection, and infection prevention an ongoing priority,” said GBAC Executive Director Patty Olinger. “With several of the main touchpoints in the city now GBAC STAR accredited, Columbus is showing its commitment in providing a clean and safe environment for residents and visitors alike.”

Ensuring and promoting visitor and resident safety has been the primary focus of Experience Columbus’ “Live Forward” marketing campaign, which launched last May to help the destination rebuild during and beyond COVID-19. GBAC STAR Accreditation is a level-up opportunity for the “Live Forward Pledge,” a commitment by more than 200 Central Ohio organizations and businesses to put health and safety at the forefront. As the pandemic has continued, that pledge has evolved to further help those partners protect residents and visitors, most recently adopting a standardized education program on Infection Prevention 101 for Public Spaces, developed by The Ohio State University with support from CloroxPro.

“We cannot thank our partners enough for their ongoing dedication to the health and safety of their guests over the past year,” said Sarah Townes, Experience Columbus vice president of marketing. “With so many businesses who have signed our ‘Live Forward Pledge’ and facilities that are pursuing this global standard of cleanliness, visitors can feel confident Columbus is a safe city to visit for work or leisure.”

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