The biggest barrier to the U.S.’s travel recovery remains the inbound testing requirement.
That’s according to a new survey conducted by Morning Consult for U.S. Travel Association. The survey, released on Thursday, queried fully vaccinated international travelers from France, Germany, the U.K., South Korea, Japan, and India about their travel plans over the next 12 months.
It found that travel decisions by more than half of those travelers (54%) are being affected by the uncertainty tied to the U.S.’s pre-departure testing requirements. It also found that half of the respondents who said they were unlikely to travel abroad over the next 12 months were not doing so because of the pre-departure testing requirements (47%).
Also according to the survey, 71% of those travelers, who could have been planning inbound trips to the U.S., said they were prioritizing travel to destinations without cumbersome entry requirements.
The data is discouraging for a U.S. Travel Industry that has come a long way since the pandemic lows in the first half of 2020, but still has room to go just to meet the levels from 2019—according to projections, that recovery won’t happen until 2024.
The U.S. remains one of the last major international travel destinations that have not removed the inbound testing requirement—Canada, the U.K., Italy, Ireland, Australia, and others have all dropped their testing requirement.
U.S. Travel Association has been pushing for the removal of the testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers going back to January. On Thursday, it again called for its removal, writing that “there is still time for the Biden administration to save the summer travel season and accelerate recovery for travel businesses.”
According to U.S. Travel, 46% of international travelers would be more likely to visit the United States if pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated adults were lifted.
“Before the pandemic, travel was the second-largest U.S. industry export and generated a positive trade balance of $53 billion,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “Inbound travel is critical to reducing the overall trade deficit, but the pre-departure testing requirement remains an unnecessary hurdle to regaining visitors and competing for global tourism dollars.
“While other countries with similar case, vaccination and hospital rates have removed their testing requirements and have begun rebuilding their travel economies, the U.S. is at a competitive disadvantage and risks a prolonged period of recovery.”