Mar 22, 2021 - World

Travel industry urges Biden to reopen U.S. to international travelers

Image of people waiting at the ticket area for JFK International Airport.
People waiting at the international terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Airlines and other travel-related industries are urging the Biden administration to develop a plan by May 1 to reopen the country to international visitors.

Why it matters: Travel and tourism were hit hard by the pandemic, with 5.6 million travel-supported jobs lost in 2020, and a $1 trillion hit to the U.S. economy, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Without a rebound in international travel, a broader economy recovery could stall.

What's happening: A coalition of travel and aviation groups released a letter Monday urging the White House “to partner with us to develop ... a risk-based, data-driven roadmap to rescind inbound international travel restrictions.”

  • Citing favorable trends in infections and hospitalizations, along with rising vaccination rates, travel officials say it's time to plan a safe reopening.
  • If inbound travel resumes by July 4, and averages 40% of 2019 levels for the remainder of this year, it would accelerate the U.S. economic recovery by adding $30 billion in incremental spending and bringing back 225,000 American jobs, the groups say.

They want to maintain other core public health protections, like mask requirements and physical distancing, as well as COVID-19 testing required for arriving passengers.

  • "However, the data and science demonstrate that the right public health measures are now in place to effectively mitigate risk and allow for the safe removal of entry restrictions."
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