US Travel Association urges repeal of inbound testing requirements

May 6, 2022

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The U.S. Travel Association sent an open letter to the Biden administration yesterday urging an end to the COVID-19 testing requirement for inbound vaccinated air travelers.

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USTA — a lobbying group made up of 1,100 travel industry members, including airlines, airports, hotels, theme parks and tourism groups — sent the letter to Dr. Ashish Jha, the national coronavirus response coordinator, encouraging him to “immediately remove” the testing requirement. USTA says the requirement is no longer needed due to “the wide range of public health tools to effectively manage COVID-19.”

Airlines for America, an airline-focused trade association, sent a separate letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky.

Related: No sign of U.S. ending testing rules

Citing current business travel spending numbers, which are down 56% from 2019 levels, and a significant drop in international travel spending, which is 78% below 2019 figures, USTA and Airlines for America say the testing requirement is inhibiting international travel, resulting in high economic costs impacting their bottom line.

The USTA letter further justifies the removal of the testing requirement by noting that many other countries “with similar infection, vaccination and hospitalization rates” have removed the testing requirement, including Canada, Germany and the U.K. Additionally, the May 5 letter references the decision by the U.S. earlier this year to scrap testing requirements for people entering the U.S. via land borders.

Related: Canada ends testing requirements

The Points Guy conducted a recent survey showing that the U.S. inbound testing requirement is having a negative impact on outbound travel as well. More than half of survey respondents indicated they would be more likely to travel internationally if the testing requirement was removed. Many U.S. travelers are concerned that they may be prevented from returning home after testing positive while abroad, thus facing additional costs and scheduling headaches from being placed in quarantine, according to the survey.

The recent removal of mask requirements for domestic flights signals other potential changes may continue to come as the world attempts to create a “new normal” of living with COVID-19.

Nevertheless, the CDC travel requirement remains unchanged since it was last updated on January 27. It states that all inbound air passengers to the U.S. age 2 years and older “will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) no more than one day before you travel by air into the United States.” Documentation of recent recovery from COVID-19 is also acceptable for entry.

Related: A country-by-country guide to where testing is not required

Featured image by Christopher Occhicone/Bloomberg.

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