With new spikes in tourist hotspots such as Mallorca and where vaccines are lagging such as Indonesia, it’s a shaky argument to make that international travel restrictions don’t help contain Covid. Vaccine equity will continue to shape the return of international travel.
U.S. travel leaders, increasingly frustrated by the lack of international travel, offered up on Wednesday three ways to reignite travel across the globe, including easing restrictions for the fully vaccinated from low-risk countries.
In a renewed plea, more than two dozen U.S. travel industry groups — including U.S. Travel Association, Airports Council International North America, the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — submitted a proposed roadmap to ease U.S. international entry restrictions for travelers from the U.K., the European Union and Canada.
“You all saw the headlines recently that Americans are traveling again but we’re still not back to normal,” said Roger Dow, CEO at U.S. Travel Association, while reiterating that travel restrictions currently in place between the U.S. and its key international markets is causing a loss of $1.5 billion per week for the U.S. economy, in addition to 10,000 jobs.
“Domestic travel alone can’t restore our economic recovery.”
The industry’s submitted proposed roadmap has three major asks:
- To lift restrictions quickly between the U.S. and the U.K.
- To allow ease of entry into the U.S. for fully vaccinated travelers from countries that are not high-risk, such as the European Union
- To ease all international entry restrictions by July 15, a date when the U.S. is expected to achieve higher immunity and declines in Covid hospitalizations
The plan includes a “risk framework” chart for vaccinated versus unvaccinated travelers and recommended entry requirements depending on the origin country being low-to-moderate risk or high risk.
Dow said the government task forces were good to have but that U.S. Travel wished these would meet more frequently. The tendency with all governments to want to be perfect was proving to be an impediment, Dow indicated.
“How we can manage this thing and look at the economic situation?” Dow added, noting that over 200 million Americans had traveled domestically already and that the government had handled it with success.
With the vaccines considered highly efficient against the Delta variant, which is already present in the country, U.S. Travel representatives said they would keep pushing the message that the government take a science-based approach in reopening to international travel.
“Restrictions on international travel are no longer what is protecting us from outbreaks of the virus,” said Dow. “In that vein, the travel industry continues to urge everyone who is eligible to receive a vaccine — they have been effective beyond expectation, and they are what is going to allow our lives to go fully back to normal and put this pandemic in the rearview mirror for good.”
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Photo credit: U.S. travel industry groups have submitted a proposed plan for reopening the country to international travelers from the European Union, U.K. and Canada. Maalikah Hartley / Flickr Commons