The U.S. no longer requires inbound air travelers to test negative for COVID-19. The testing mandate is due to end at midnight on Sunday, June 12, 2022, according to a report from CNN.
The Biden administration is expected to make an official announcement on Friday afternoon.
The move follows calls from the travel and hospitality industries to end the requirement, seeing it as a major setback for the recovery of the U.S. travel industry despite a huge demand from travelers. The mandate, which had been in place since January 2021, required all inbound travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, regardless of their vaccination status. Other countries, including the U.K., Italy and Germany, have already lifted similar requirements.
The travel industry was quick to react to the news.
“Today marks another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow, in a press 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.
“International inbound travel is vitally important to businesses and workers across the country who have struggled to regain losses from this valuable sector. More than half of international travelers in a recent survey pointed to the pre-departure testing requirement as a major deterrent for inbound travel to the U.S.”
Dow also said that new data shows that “repealing the pre-departure testing requirement could bring an additional 5.4 million visitors to the U.S. and an additional $9 billion in travel spending through the remainder of 2022.”
“Today is a great day,” said Zane Kerby, the president and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), in a press statement. “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. Since the start of the year, ASTA has been engaged in a multi-layered advocacy campaign to get to this point, including direct lobbying of Congress and Administration officials, grassroots action and pressure through national and local media. 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.”
Lorine Charles-St. Jules, the CEO of Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, is already hearing a sigh of relief from both travel advisors and travelers. “While most countries, like Saint Lucia, have made it seamless to schedule Covid testing before departing for the U.S., there is always uncertainty in travel,” Charles-St. Jules said. “Eliminating the testing requirement could spur further growth in international travel for Saint Lucia, the Caribbean, and all international destinations that appeal to the American market.”
In a press statement, Jeff Roy, executive v.p. of Collette, said he “anticipates a significant reduction in last minute cancellations” and “a resurgence in both guests and travel advisors booking more international travel for the remainder of 2022 and into 2023.” Roy added that the tour company will follow the Biden administration’s lead while continuing to honor all local quarantine requirements within each country.
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