Stats: Half of International Travelers Cite Testing Rule as Reason to Skip U.S.

A new survey conducted by Morning Consult for the U.S. Travel Association revealed that the inbound pre-departure testing requirement imposed by the federal government is having a “devastating” impact on travelers’ likelihood of visiting the United States this summer and remains a major barrier to economic recovery.

A survey of vaccinated international travelers in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Japan and India found that pre-departure testing requirements are a deterrent to travel and are making it significantly less likely that people will choose to visit the U.S. To that end, nearly half of respondents (47 percent) who are unlikely to travel abroad in the next 12 months cited pre-departure testing requirements as a reason. Additionally, more than half of international travelers (54 percent) said the added uncertainty of potentially having to cancel a trip due to U.S. pre-departure testing requirements would have a big impact on their likelihood to visit the U.S.

Along the same lines, a majority of adults surveyed (71 percent) agreed that they prioritize traveling to destinations without cumbersome entry requirements (29 percent “strongly agreed” with this).

Saving the Summer Travel Season

Despite the bleak projections for inbound travel, according to U.S. Travel, there is still time for the Biden Administration to save the summer travel season and accelerate recovery for travel businesses. Forty-six percent of international travelers would be more likely to visit the United States if pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated adults were lifted. If the removal of the pre-departure testing requirement would bring an increase of just 20 percent more visitors this summer than officials currently expect, it would mean an additional half a million visitors each month and $2 billion in valuable U.S. travel exports. Over the course of the summer, that spending could directly support approximately 40,000 U.S. jobs. 

This is particularly urgent as international arrivals to the U.S. are still far below pre-pandemic levels and are not projected to recover to 2019 levels until 2024.

With abundant health and safety tools in place, practically all other sectors of the U.S. economy—including domestic air travel—are operating without a federal requirement for testing; international inbound air travel remains a key exception. The Morning Consult survey follows a letter that U.S. Travel, along with 260-plus other travel organizations and businesses, sent to White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha, asking for the repeal of the pre-departure testing requirement for vaccinated international air travelers.

“Stronger immunity provided by vaccinations, boosters and prior infections, as well as effective treatments to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19, have enabled Americans to safely return to work, schools and normal activities—all without the need for indoor masks, frequent testing and physical distancing. These factors strongly support the elimination of the pre-departure testing requirement for vaccinated international air travelers,” the letter read.

With the latest research, the U.S. Travel Association is again urging the Biden Administration to repeal the pre-departure testing requirement quickly and accelerate recovery for this critical segment of the U.S. economy.

Source: U.S. Travel Association

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