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A coalition of travel stakeholders is urging the Biden Administration to speed up the process of allowing more international tourists into the U.S.
The group, which includes Airlines for America, the U.S. Travel Association and unions representing pilots and flight attendants, say the United States should have a “risk-based data-driven” plan to ensure the industry isn’t caught off guard when restrictions are lifted.
The fear is that the U.S. will fall behind other countries, according to the Washington Post.
“The entire travel industry, and airlines in particular, like to plan,” said Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president for legislative and regulatory policy for Airlines for America, which represents major U.S. airlines. “It takes time to pull planes out of storage. Several carriers have announced they’re bringing pilots back — and that takes time.”
Travel leaders have been buoyed by the success of the coronavirus vaccinations, with more than 100 million people already vaccinated in America alone. With the exception of some hot spots in the U.S. and the world, such as India, COVID-19 positive cases have seen a dramatic reduction with a consistent drop since February.
As a result, several European nations have begun laying out criteria for reopening. Greece recently lifted its ban on visitors from the United States if they provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of their arrival, and will start accepting visitors beginning May 15.
France and Spain announced plans to reopen to international visitors. And officials in the United Kingdom hope to restart some international travel by May 17. The European Union is making plans to reopen to U.S. travelers this summer.
“We should be leading,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the U.S. Travel Association. “Airlines, airports … all these folks need to be able to prepare. What’s going to be required? We don’t want people to be scrambling.”