Once again, the travel industry is calling for the U.S. government to aid in its recovery by removing COVID-19-era travel restrictions that are still weighing heavily on the industry.
In a letter to the White House’s Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha, major voices across the travel industry joined together to push for the removal of the inbound testing requirement for vaccinated travelers.
While there have been many calls to remove the testing requirement, including some going back to January, Thursday’s letter includes maybe the largest, and most comprehensive, group of travel industry voices.
The group includes major airlines such as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, the largest hotel companies in the world including BWH, Hyatt, Marriott, and Wyndham, and others like Disney Parks, MGM Resorts, Universal Parks and Resorts. It also includes national associations representing airlines (Airlines for America), cruise lines (CLIA), the U.S. Travel Association, and countless more small and mid-sized businesses that depend on tourism.
“We encourage the Administration to expeditiously terminate the inbound testing requirement for vaccinated air travelers,” the letter starts.
“As President Biden said in his State of the Union speech, we have now reached a new moment in the fight against COVID-19,” it continues, adding that with that new moment, should come a new set of rules and regulations including the elimination of the testing requirement for vaccinated international air travelers.
The group believes that “while there is no longer a need for an inbound testing requirement for vaccinated travelers, the economic costs associated with maintaining the measure are significant,” including the business travel spend, which is still 56% below 2019 levels, and the international travel spend, which is still down 78% compared to 2019.
Also, the group points out, that the U.S. remains one of the only major international travel markets to keep the pre-departure testing requirement for vaccinated travelers—others, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada have already eliminated it.
“Given the slow economic recovery of the business and international travel sectors, and in light of medical advancements and the improved public health metrics in the U.S., we encourage you to immediately remove the inbound testing requirement for vaccinated air travelers,” the letter finishes.