The travel industry cheered the end of the predeparture testing requirement for inbound air travelers, which the Biden administration said would expire June 12.
In a tweet, White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz confirmed that the “US will end Covid-19 testing requirement for air travelers entering the country” and said that the CDC would “evaluate its need based on the science and in context of circulating variants.”
U.S. Travel, which has been lobbying hard for the repeal of the rule, said it would mean an additional 5.4 million visitors and $9 billion in travel spend for the U.S. this year.
“Today marks another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States,” U.S. Travel CEO Roger Dow said in a statement. “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.”
ASTA also commended the news and along with U.S. Travel had made its repeal the Society’s top legislative priority for some time.
“We are thrilled to see the end of the CDC’s inbound testing rule, which has been standing in the way of our industry’s recovery for too long,” said ASTA CEO Zane Kerby. “We commend the Biden administration for taking this long-overdue step and thank ASTA members across the country for their hard work in helping get this across the finish line. While plenty of challenges remain in terms of rebuilding the travel agency business, today is a great day.”
ASTA, U.S. Travel and many other travel industry groups have been advocating to end the requirement for months, as most other Western nations dropped theirs. The industry had lobbied Congress and White House officials and had taken grassroots action, encouraging constituent to rally their representatives on the issue. The rule was the main issue ASTA planned to address during its annual Congressional fly-in, Legislative Day, later this month in Washington.
And during this week’s IPW conference in Orlando, the testing requirement was identified as the main obstacle to travel’s recovery by U.S. Travel and several other industry leaders.
At IPW, Dow said that after meeting with the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force last week, its members agreed that the logic for the testing was “not there” and that “the science and data does not support the testing requirement.”
U.S. airlines, too, have lobbied for months for the testing requirement to be lifted. In a statement today, Airlines for America CEO Nick Calio said that the industry appreciates Friday’s decision by the Biden administration, “in accordance with the current epidemiological environment.”
“Lifting this policy will help encourage and restore air travel to the United States, benefiting communities across the country that rely heavily on travel and tourism to support their local economies,” Calio said. “We are eager to welcome the millions of travelers who are ready to come to the U.S. for vacation, business and reunions with loved ones.”
Jamie Biesiada and Robert Silk contributed to this report.
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