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The Biden administration announced Friday that it will no longer require U.S. citizens to take pre-flight COVID-19 tests to re-enter the country after facing mounting pressure from airlines and some members of Congress.
Industry officials urged the White House to end the testing because it is detrimental to business. They also said the risk of COVID was no longer worth the pain. Would-be travelers had to consider that, in order to return to the U.S., they would need to test negative before boarding the flight. That fact discouraged many from purchasing tickets in the first place.
A senior administration official told The Hill that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “has determined based on the science and data that this requirement is no longer necessary at this time.”
The requirement will stay in place until Sunday at 12:01 a.m., so if you test positive for the virus on Saturday before flying, you’re out of luck.
Jennifer Nuzzo, an infectious diseases expert at Brown University, tweeted about the requirement and how she felt it was unnecessary.
“It’s unclear what pre-arrival testing was actually achieving,” she posted. “My experience getting tested abroad left me unconvinced that tests were actually being performed in a useful way. It seemed more likely that I got a negative result for a price.”
Colin Matthes, the co-founder of Salt Lake City-based Stay Awhile, told the New York Post: “Planning travel is immensely stressful—whether you are a travel agent planning trips on behalf of others, or an individual traveler planning everyone on your own. Having the added requirement to find a place where you can get a COVID test in a country where you may not speak the language is more than most people want to deal with.”
The Biden administration has been facing pressure from the industry that said the pre-departure requirement had a “chilling effect on an already fragile economy here in the U.S.”
"Other countries with whom we directly compete for global travelers have removed their pre-departure testing requirements and reopened their tourism economies, putting the U.S. at a serious competitive disadvantage for export dollars," Roger Dow of the U.S. Travel Association said last month.
The U.S. Travel Association estimates that the elimination of the pre-flight test requirement could bring an additional 5.4 million visitors to the U.S., along with $9 billion in spending, through the remainder of 2022, Travel Market Report said. The report pointed out that airlines are dealing with a drop in daily passenger volume, which is down between 11 percent and 18 percent when compared to 2019 levels.
TREND FORECAST: The travel industry will likely be among the last to fully recover from the COVID Wars due to soaring inflation.
The industry still faces headwinds.
The U.S. Travel Association said in May that 65 percent of meeting planners said they do not expect business travel to reach 2019 levels until at least 2023. In April, overseas visitation remained 43 percent below 2019 levels in April.
Many hotels have re-structured operations to permanently cut jobs and reduce guest services, making hotel stays less alluring. (See “2020 SHUTDOWN PERMANENTLY ERASED JOBS,” 20 Jul 2021.)
Several companies have permanently cut budgets for business travel. (See “TRAVEL AND TOURISM: CRASHING,” 21 Jul 2021.)
There have been glimmers of hope for the industry. The U.S. Travel Association said that for the first time since the start of the pandemic, travel spending ($100 billion) was 3 percent ABOVE 2019 levels in April 2022.
As we have forecast previously, the travel industry will recover, but only as a shrunken version of what it was before 2020.
Should politicians continue to fight the COVID War and Presstitutes continue to sell COVID Fear and Hysteria, the travel sector across the business and consumer spectrum will deeply decline.
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