UPDATED: US Set To Lift Pre-Departure Test Requirement

Good news for the travel industry.

Reports indicate that the U.S. will be lifting its requirement for international air travellers to take a COVID-19 test a day before their flights to the United States.

The testing mandate for air travellers is set to expire at 12:01 am EDT on Sunday, June 12 and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says that the pre-departure test isn’t necessary anymore.

The CDC will review the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and it could be reinstated should a new, more troubling variant appear.

ASTA Reacts

The American Society of Travel Advisors’ (ASTA) President & CEO Zane Kerby was quick to respond to the announcement issues that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will lift its requirement for travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the U.S..

Said Kerby: “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. 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. 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.”

Addressing the CDC’s inbound testing rule has long been ASTA’s top policy priority.

The Society’s advocacy campaign on the issue featured over 100 Congressional meetings, nearly 4,000 grassroots emails to the Administration, over 7,400 letters to the editor through our grassroots portal, and multiple ASTA and coalition letters to Administration officials.

Holland America Responds

Holland America Line’s president, Gus Antorcha said: “The CDC ending its requirement of a negative COVID-19 test for Americans to reenter the United States is an important step forward in the return to all global travel, including cruising. The change means that U.S. travelers can pursue their love of cruising Holland America Line voyages from homeports in Europe, Canada and Australia without concern they could be denied entry to return home.”

Antorcha continued: “This is exciting news for Holland America Line and our guests as we complete our return to service this week with all 11 ships in our fleet back in operations. It removes a barrier to travel for some guests who understandably wanted to avoid the uncertainty of return testing. At Holland America Line, we continue to operate vaccinated cruises and have created a safe and healthy environment for our guests, our teams, and the communities we serve, helping to ensure cruising is among the safest forms of socializing and travel. And we continue to offer our Worry-Free Promise to allow flexible cancelation for cruises booked by September and departing through December.”

Welcome News For NYC & Company

NYC & Company President and CEO, Fred Dixon said that: “The lifting of the testing requirement for inbound international air travellers is very welcome news for New York City’s travel and tourism industry, and will no doubt accelerate our continued recovery and that of the U.S.”

Dixon continued: “We thank the Biden Administration for ending this mandate and giving the industry the opportunity to speed recovery and restore jobs in the process. In NYC, international travel represents 50% of spending in a typical year. In fact, it takes the spending power of four domestic visitors to equal the spending of one international traveler, so easing the entry process means a stronger and faster recovery.”

GBTA ‘Heartily’ Supports Move

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) said that it supports the anticipated announcement by the Biden Administration eliminating the requirement for all travellers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, within 24-hours of arriving in the United States, effective Sunday, June 12.
Suzanne Neufang, CEO of GBTA, said that the association “heartily applauds the lifting of the U.S. testing requirement which has been a remaining key barrier impacting the return of travel. It is vital to global recovery that we continue to show that America is open for business and for business travel. Americans have been unwilling to take the chance of being unable to return to the U.S. at the end of their business trip or vacation.”

Neugang continued: “This will also help to ensure we create an easy path forward for international travelers to return to the U.S. for business, conferences, and meetings. We’ve made progress in returning to life and business and cannot afford to go backwards.”

The association notes that it has been an active voice on this topic over the past months, making it clear that the U.S. travel restrictions were impacting people’s willingness to travel. In fact, the constantly changing requirements and strict testing measures were cited as a top concern for business travel in a GBTA study.