Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


U.S. to Lift Vaccine Requirement for International Inbound Travelers

1 year ago

The Biden Administration announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Covid vaccine requirement for inbound international air travelers to the U.S. will end on May 11. The administration will also remove the requirement for federal employees and contractors.

The U.S. Travel Association applauded the requirement’s repeal. “Today’s action to lift the vaccine requirement eases a significant entry barrier for many global travelers, moving our industry and country forward,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Geoff Freeman, referring to the May 1 announcement.

The vaccine requirements were put in place to slow the spread of Covid and allow the U.S. healthcare system time to manage care if faced with rising cases and hospitalizations. The Biden Administration cited the decline in Covid cases, hospitalizations and vaccinations as a reason for the repeal.

The removal will likely lead to an increase in international travelers. U.S. Travel called on the government to be prepared. “The federal government must ensure U.S. airports and other ports of entry are appropriately staffed with Customs and Border Protection officers to meet the growing demand for entry,” Freeman said.


Europe, Middle East to Reach Pre-Pandemic Tourism Levels in 2023: UNWTO

1 year ago

Both the Middle East and Europe are on track to reach their pre-pandemic levels in 2023 , according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Last year saw a stronger than expected recovery for the global tourism economy.

In 2022, more than 900 million tourists traveled internationally, double from 2021 but 63 percent of 2019 levels. International tourism receipts rose across most destinations. The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) cited increases in average spending per trip due to longer stays, traveler willingness to spend more at destinations and higher travel costs due to inflation.

International tourists arrivals could reach between 80 to 95 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2023. The potential economic slowdown, the Ukraine war, Asia Pacific’s recovery timeline and other factors will play a role in how quickly international travel returns to its pre-pandemic level.

The Middle East had the best comeback of all the regions last year. The region reached 83 percent of its pre-pandemic level. Europe reached around 80 percent. Africa and the Americas received around 63 percent of their pre-pandemic level. 

Asia Pacific had a rough year. The region reached only 23 percent of its pre-pandemic volume due to stronger pandemic restrictions, according to UNWTO. China’s zero-Covid policy was a big driver. For most of 2022,  the policy effectively shut China out of the global tourism economy. 

Tourism leaders have repeatedly said China’s absence has dragged the global recovery. “We look at Greater China, the zero Covid policy has continued to dampen recovery in a meaningful way,” said Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano at World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit.

With China now relaxing its policy, Asia Pacific and the world have made a significant step toward recovery. UNWTO said the availability and cost of air travel, visa regulations and COVID-19 related restrictions will shape how the recovery will play out.  At least 32 destinations have imposed travel restrictions on Chinese tourists. The U.S., for example, requires Chinese tourists to test negative for Covid no more than two days before departure.

Travel demand from the U.S., however, will continue to be strong in 2023 thanks to the strength of the American dollar, according to UNWTO. Europe in particular will enjoy strong travel flows because of the euro’s relative weakness compared to the dollar.


Qatar Requires World Cup Visitors to Produce Negative Covid Test Upon Arrival

2 years ago

Fans attending soccer’s World Cup in Qatar this November and December must show proof of a negative Covid test upon arriving in the country, event organizers said on Thursday.

All visitors above the age of six must produce a negative result from a PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure or a rapid antigen test taken in the 24 hours prior to their arrival, the event’s organizing committee said in a statement. Travelers older than 18 will also be required to download Qatar’s government-run contact tracing app Ehteraz. A green Etheraz status, which shows the user does not have a confirmed Covid case, is necessary for entering any closed indoor spaces available to the public.

However, fans traveling to Qatar for the World Cup aren’t required to be vaccinated. In addition, Qatar does not mandate travelers take a Covid test prior to departing the country. Roughly 1.5 million fans are expected to travel to the Gulf State for the tournament, which starts on Nov. 20.

Visitors to Qatar must produce a negative Covid test upon arrival in the country (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)


Norwegian Cruise Will Drop Covid Test Requirement

2 years ago

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd will no longer require vaccinated travelers to take a Covid test before sailing on its cruises, effective September 3. Unvaccinated travelers will have to provide proof of a negative Antigen or PCR test no more than 72 hours prior to boarding.

“The relaxation of protocols coupled with continued easing of travel restrictions and the reopening to cruise in more ports around the globe are meaningfully positive for our business as it reduces friction, expands the addressable cruise market, brings variety to itineraries and provides additional catalysts on the road to recovery,” said Norwegian Cruise Lines President and CEO Frank Del Rio in the announcement.

Norwegian will become the latest major cruise line to drop the Covid testing requirement. Royal Caribbean and Carnival dropped theirs in August. The requirement removals follow the CDC’s announcement last month to stop tracking Covid outbreaks on cruise ships.