On Thursday, the U.S. Travel Association joined 19 organizations in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Azar, Transportation Secretary Chao and Homeland Security Acting Secretary Wolf urging the adoption of practical COVID-19 testing requirements for travel in order to eliminate mandatory quarantines and travel bans.
The U.S. economy cannot be fully restored without a revival of the travel industry. Since the beginning of March, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in $415 billion in cumulative losses for the U.S. travel economy, with states like Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois experiencing losses exceeding 50% of 2019 travel spending.
As stated in the letter, there is widespread agreement in the aviation and travel industries that appropriate COVID-19 pre-departure testing protocols can serve as an alternative to current requirements, while increasing confidence in the health and safety of the air transportation system. This is echoed in research by Engagious showing that nearly one-third of travelers would be “much more likely” to fly domestically if all passengers and employees tested negative for COVID-19 immediately before flying.
In addition to these measures, the letter calls on state governments to work together with the aviation industry on alignment for travel protocols and to support the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Council Aviation Recovery Task framework.
The travel industry cannot bounce back without travelers, and travelers need assurance that the act of traveling is safe. We should move away from domestic travel ban policies and mandatory quarantines. With an organized pre-departure COVID-19 testing approach and alignment on protocols across the world to combat the pandemic’s spread, we can kickstart travel’s resurgence and begin to rebuild the U.S. economy.