The letter was signed by American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hilton, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Disney, and other relevant businesses and organizations in the travel industry
Over 260 companies from the tourism industry made an urgent call on Thursday to the Biden administration to remove covid testing measures for vaccinated travelers to enter the United States.
Businesses and organizations in the US Travel Association sent a letter to the White House addressed to Dr. Ashish Jha, COVID-19 Response Coordinator. The main request states: “We encourage the Administration to expeditiously terminate the inbound testing requirement for vaccinated air travelers.”
In the document, the parties involved explained that the country is at a new stage, that there is a stronger immunity in the population, and that all COVID-19 measures need to change too. They mentioned that people are going back to work, school, and other normal activities, demonstrating that there is a new healthier reality.
The tourism industry in the US counts on international travelers for its recovery, and while the COVID-19 test is still mandatory to enter the country —even for vaccinated travelers— there will be an obstacle to succeeding in that process.
This was also addressed in the letter: “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 was signed by large and relevant corporations in the industry such as American Airlines, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Universal Parks and Resorts, Hilton, Marriott International, and Expedia Group. National associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Travel Association, Airlines for America, and Cruise Lines International Association were also involved, as well as airports and other small and mid-sized businesses.
The Biden Administration has already made changes in other pandemic-related measures and provided alternatives like the free at-home test—that does not work for travel or entering the US— delivered a few months ago. The Tourism Industry expects a response regarding the request for the removal of the entry test soon and so do travelers.
Will This Letter Make A Change?
It is not the first time the US Travel Association addressed the Biden Administration for urgent changes on travel measures related to the COVID-19. Last year, the president of the institution, Roger Dow, also requested new measures for the “Next Great Chapter” for the recovery of the industry, only this time the request is more precise.
In the new letter, presented on May 5, requesting the removal of the COVID-19 test for vaccinated travelers, the organizations also presented data and other strong arguments, such as the economic costs of maintaining this measure.
According to the information provided in the document, compared to 2019 business travel spending was still below 56%, and international travel spending was 78% down.
Foreign governments with similar vaccinations and infection rates —like Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom— that have eliminated testing for international travelers we also considered as references in the statement. And they added: “Further, since the federal government does not require negative tests for entry at our land-border ports of entry with Canada and Mexico, it no longer makes sense to keep a pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirement in place for vaccinated inbound international air travelers to the U.S.”
Businesses and organizations insisted that international travel is safer now and that the testing mandate is no longer necessary. The Washington Post reported a few weeks ago that the last government statement said by White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients in a briefing was: “There are no plans to change the international travel requirements at this point”.
The Travel Industry is currently expecting a response to the letter and within the next few days we’ll see if the US Government considers the request.
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