After months of the travel industry lobbying the U.S. government to end the pre-departure testing requirement for international arrivals, the Biden administration has announced that it will lift the rule on Sunday, June 12, at 12:01 a.m., according to a senior administration official.
Since January 2021, all air passengers two years of age or older boarding a flight from a foreign country to the U.S. — no matter their vaccination status — were required to produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 prior to entering the country.
According to the official, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will re-evaluate the decision in 90 days, at which point, the requirement for pre-departure testing could be reinstated if there are new concerns about another variant.
The Travel Industry Reacts to the Lifting of the Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test for Air Travelers
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) was one the travel industry’s staunchest critics of the testing requirement. The group’s advocacy campaign featured more than “100 Congressional meetings, nearly 4,000 grassroots emails to the administration, over 7,400 letters to the editor through our grassroots portal, and multiple ASTA and coalition letters to administration officials,” according to ASTA.
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.
“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 Zane Kerby, president and CEO of ASTA. “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. While plenty of challenges remain in terms of rebuilding the travel agency business, today is a great day.”
According to an analysis by the U.S. Travel Association, the repeal of the testing requirement for all inbound air travelers is “projected to add 5.4 million visitors to the U.S. and $9 billion in travel spending through the remainder of 2022.”
Roger Dow, CEO and president of U.S. Travel, called the day “another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the U.S.”
The lifting of this requirement will enable the industry to lead the way toward a broader U.S. economic and jobs recovery.
“International inbound travel is vitally important to businesses and workers across the country who have struggled to regain losses from this valuable sector,” he said. “Prior to the pandemic, travel was one of our nation’s largest industry exports. The lifting of this requirement will enable the industry to lead the way toward a broader U.S. economic and jobs recovery.”
Destinations around the world are also applauding the news.
“The lifting of COVID-19 testing requirements for international [travelers] will absolutely have a positive impact on international tourism, as well as U.S. tourism,” said Lorine Charles-St. Jules, CEO of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority. “This is especially true for travelers who may have been deterred from traveling internationally because of worries about securing tests in time in a foreign country. 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.”