WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to pressure and lobbying from airlines, the U.S. Travel Association and others in the travel industry, the Biden administration announced the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will lift the pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound international travelers starting at midnight on June 12. The CDC put these travel restrictions in place January 2021.
“Today marks another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States. The Biden administration is to be commended for this action, which will welcome back visitors from around the world and accelerate the recovery of the U.S. travel industry,” Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement.
He cited a new analysis, which found that repealing the pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirement could bring an additional 5.4 million visitors to the U.S. and an additional $9 billion in travel spending through the remainder of 2022. In 2021, international visitors spent $80.1 billion in the U.S., significantly less than the $233.5 billion spent in 2019, according to the International Trade Administration.
“Prior to the pandemic, travel was one of our nation’s largest industry exports. The lifting of this requirement will enable the industry to lead the way toward a broader U.S. economic and jobs recovery,” Dow said.
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A previous U.S. Travel Association survey showed that 54% of international travelers said the added uncertainty of potentially having to cancel a trip due to U.S. pre-departure testing requirements would have a big impact on their likelihood to visit the U.S.
Good News for Trade Shows
As a direct result from the lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions, the international attendance at trade shows and events is expected to grow.
“As the face-to-face business events industry continues to work tirelessly to bring back international exhibitors and attendees to our conferences and trade shows, this welcome news removes one of the key barriers to jumpstarting our industry’s recovery and getting people from across the country and around the world back to business at our U.S. events,” ECA Vice President for Government Affairs Tommy Goodwin said in a statement.
The U.S. has been lagging in fully reopening to international travelers. This January, the U.K. announced that fully vaccinated travelers would not have to take a pre-departure test, and on March 18 all remaining travel restrictions were lifted. Effective this April, Canada lifted the test requirement to enter for fully vaccinated travelers. Other European nations, Australia and New Zealand followed suit.
“U.S. Travel and our partners advocated tirelessly for months to ensure this requirement would be lifted, pointing to the monumental scientific advancements that have made it possible for us to reach this point,” Dow said. “We thank President Biden, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Dr. Ashish Jha and others in the administration for recognizing the immense economic power of travel and its ability to reconnect the U.S. with the global community.”
Reach Tommy Goodwin at (703) 539-5875 or firstname.lastname@example.org