Industry Applauds U.S. Repeal of COVID-19 Testing Mandate for Inbound Air Travelers
Following months of advocacy, travel and events industry entities are praising the Biden Administration’s announcement that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will lift the pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound air travelers, effective June 12, hailing the move as vital to the industry’s full recovery.
“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,” said Thomas Goodwin, vice president for government affairs for the Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance (ECA).
The important development comes at the end of ECA Legislative Action Week, which brought together leaders and advocates from across the face-to-face business events industry to meet with members of Congress about the importance of enabling the return of international attendees and exhibitors by encouraging the Biden Administration to remove the pre-departure testing requirement and restore visa interviewing and processing capacity at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world to pre-pandemic levels.
U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow commended the Biden Administration and called the decision to lift the testing requirement another huge step forward for the recovery of international travel to the U.S., pointing to a recent analysis that projects 5.4 million additional visitors to the U.S. and $9 billion in additional travel spending in 2022 as a result.
“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.
International inbound travel is vitally important to businesses, including those in the events sector, and workers across the country who have struggled to regain losses from the pandemic, according to Dow, who added that more than half of international travelers in a recent survey pointed to the pre-departure testing requirement as a major deterrent to travel to the U.S.
According to the latest international inbound travel forecast by Tourism Economics and U.S. Travel, international travel spending was $180.9 billion in 2019, and taking elevated inflation into account, is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until approximately 2025.
“Prior to the pandemic, travel was one of our nation’s largest industry exports,” Dow said. “The lifting of this requirement will enable the industry to lead the way toward a broader U.S. economic and jobs recovery.”
Destinations International President and CEO Don Welsh praised U.S. Travel and industry partners who continuously advocated to end the testing requirement and commended the Biden Administration for its decision.
"We thank President Biden, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, [White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator] 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," Welsh said.
The requirement for a negative COVID-19 test for inbound travelers prior to arriving in the U.S. had been in place since last year. The CDC said science and data have indicated that it is no longer necessary but plans to reevaluate the need for a testing requirement in 90 days based on the COVID-19 situation at that time.