Travel

The United States is at an inflection point on travel – InsideSources

The United States is at an inflection point on travel - InsideSources

Despite its position as a world leader, it seems like the US is following a lot these days. Countries around the world are seeking to ease travel restrictions enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pre-COVID U.S. return-to-life timeline is unknown in the near term, many other countries have successfully eased restrictions, including entry requirements, as borders (and economies ) reopen. The United States must catch up or risk being left behind.

The World Health Organization recently recommended to States Parties: “Remove or relax international travel bans as they do not add value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress suffered by States Parties. The failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and notification of the Omicron variant to limit the international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time.

Government restrictions on international travel have failed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Yet the leaders of many governments around the world (including the United States) continue to implement and revise a wide variety of vaccination, testing, and quarantine requirements. Others, like Denmark, are easing travel restrictions to help economies recover while simultaneously finding other ways to protect the health of their citizens.

The UK, for example, eliminated the testing requirement for vaccinated travelers based on data and science. The United States should do the same.

The US government needs a long-term view of endemic travel policies. Knee-jerk reactions such as country-by-country travel restrictions, costly and burdensome testing requirements and quarantine policies have failed to slow the spread of the virus and prolong the economic recovery.

Many U.S. travelers choose to avoid international travel, despite being fully immunized, for fear of testing positive upon return and having to quarantine in a foreign country. Often, quarantine requirements include isolation at traveler’s expense or quarantine in a “COVID hotel”, operated by the host government with suboptimal conditions and meals.

Demand for international travel remains high. Our global society is eager to return to a level of normalcy that includes maintaining precautions while resuming life and travel. However, the risk of having to quarantine, and therefore prolong time away from family or work, is untenable for many – so they don’t – and the economy is feeling the pain.

Requiring vaccinated travelers to get tested within 24 hours of departure is impractical and often difficult based on availability, convenience and access to testing at the location of the departing flight. For these vaccinated travellers, pre-departure requirements should be eliminated.

The world is waking up to reality, recognizing that we are moving from pandemic to endemic. It is widely recognized and accepted that we must learn to live with COVID-19 as we seek the new normal, as close to pre-pandemic life as possible. Common-sense reforms to travel restrictions will go a long way to getting back on track.

The United States can lead the rebuilding of the global travel and tourism sector (and the economy as a whole) by taking a long-term, risk-based, data-driven approach to the epidemic. Leading other nations with policies that protect society while keeping our borders open and supporting and promoting international travel can be done safely.