The Biden administration’s lifting of COVID testing rules for tourists who enter the United States is welcome and long overdue, travel organizations said on Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control announced Friday that it would no longer require visitors to the country to present a negative COVID test at ports of entry, starting Sunday. European countries have long ditched the rule.
“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,” said Colin Matthes, the co-founder of Salt Lake City-based Stay Awhile, which markets trips to the “best food cities around the globe.”
“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.”
Matthes added: “Removing this restriction will make the life of all travelers simpler, more affordable, and free up their schedule to spend more time doing the things they love to do on vacation.”
Airlines, travel groups, and hospitality organizations had long opposed the regulation, saying it was onerous.
“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,” the American Society of Travel Advisors said in a statement on Friday.
“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.”
The organization continued: “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.”
A senior Biden administration official said, “Today, the Administration is announcing an important update: CDC will no longer require pre-departure COVID-19 testing for U.S.-bound air travelers, effective Sunday, June 12th at 12:01 a.m. ET.”
The official said that “CDC has determined based on the science and data that this requirement is no longer necessary at this time. CDC will do a reassessment of this decision in 90 days, and as with other policies, CDC will continue to evaluate it on an ongoing basis.”
The administration’s decision is also likely to have a positive impact on Americans’ ability to travel abroad.
Lorine Charles-St. Jules, the CEO of Saint Lucia Tourism Authority told The Post that officials in the Caribbean country were “already hearing feedback from travel advisors…who are happy about this protocol being lifted in the US.”
“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,” she said.
McLean Robbins, the owner and founder of Lily Pond Luxury, a high-end travel agency based in Virginia, told The Post that the lifting of the testing requirement is “the feather in the cap of an explosive travel rebound for summer 2022.”
“This is a welcome sign of travel’s great return and a great relief for travelers,” she said.
“The removal is long overdue…”
Robbins said that the “greater challenge for the luxury sector will be to re-staff to manage demand,” particularly for those interested in traveling to Europe.
“[T]he major barrier to entry in Europe this summer is not a negative COVID test, but the ability to secure space and top service for our discerning clients,” she said.