A bipartisan group of 38 mayors representing American cities and counties spanning Miami to San Francisco sent a letter on Tuesday to the Biden administration asking for the removal of pre-departure testing as a requirement for U.S. entry by air for vaccinated individuals. Mayors of Houston, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Philadelphia also sent separate letters to the administration with the same request, totaling 42 mayors.
In the group’s letter, the leaders state: “American cities are still struggling to regain international visitors after more than two years of pandemic-related restrictions. In 2021, international visitation was a staggering 78% below pre-pandemic levels. Our constituents and our businesses suffered greatly from this steep decline in international travel spending, and they cannot fully recover until this vital sector of the U.S. economy rebounds.”
More than 40 nations have recently lifted pre-departure testing requirements without negatively impacting public health. While nearly all other aspects of the economy have reopened without a testing requirement, inbound air travel for vaccinated individuals remains an outlier. For example, the U.S. government does not require proof of a negative COVID-19 test at U.S. land border ports of entry.
The letter from U.S. mayors follows a similar appeal by more than 260 travel businesses and organizations from across the U.S., who sent a May letter to the administration requesting the removal of pre-departure testing.
Bipartisan members of Congress have also asked the administration to remove the testing requirement, with a bipartisan letter in the U.S. House led by Reps. Correa and Salazar, a letter from the Nevada congressional delegation, and a letter signed by more than 30 U.S. senators.
Speaking from Orlando at the U.S. Travel Association international trade event IPW, U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow echoed the mayors' request, calling the U.S. government’s pre-departure testing requirement an “unnecessary hurdle and major deterrent to traveling to the U.S.”
At a U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade and Export Promotion hearing held yesterday, U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes testified on the need to immediately end the government’s pre-departure testing requirement for vaccinated inbound air travelers. She noted how the existing policy is depressing a significant amount of travel to the U.S. and does not provide a meaningful benefit to public health.
U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry. Travelers in the United States are estimated to spend $1.1 trillion in 2022 (still 10% below 2019 levels). U.S. Travel advocates for policies to accelerate an even recovery across the travel industry and restore economic and job growth for this essential contributor to our nation’s success. Visit ustravel.org for information and recovery-related data.