Many Americans are still avoiding international travel because of the testing requirement upon reentering the country, even if they are vaccinated. The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has asked the White House to reconsider testing requirements for fully-vaccinated travelers.
“While we understand the rationale behind the inbound testing order, it continues to present a number of practical challenges to our members and their clients,” ASTA said in a letter to the White House. “These challenges range from uncertainty as to the availability of timely testing in-destination to avoid disruption to their return trip to the financial and psychological burdens associated with being prevented from returning home due to a positive (or false positive) test result, to a general chilling effect on international travel bookings.”
ASTA also said that the recent shortening of the testing window from 72 to 24 hours “has only exacerbated these challenges.”
“In our view, the inbound testing order remains the single biggest barrier to the full recovery of the international travel system on which so many of our members, and their clients, rely for their livelihoods. As we enter the third year of the pandemic and reflect on how far the science related to COVID-19 mitigation has advanced since the order was first put in place in January 2021, we respectfully request that fully vaccinated U.S. citizens be exempted from the order. ”
The ASTA also said that it would incentivize travelers to get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so.
The letter also cited a number of countries who have removed their pre-departure test requirement for fully-vaccinated travelers, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, and others. The European Union (EU) also recommends their member states not require vaccinated residents to undergo pre-departure tests.
“To be clear, we do not as a general matter believe that vaccination should be a prerequisite to international travel,” ASTA continued in their letter. “That said, we do believe a balance needs to be struck in terms of protecting public health without crippling the free flow of commerce and individuals across international borders. Exempting fully vaccinated U.S. citizens from the order is a way to appropriately strike that balance consistent with the Administration’s stated desire for ‘an air travel policy that relies primarily on vaccination to advance the safe resumption of international air travel to the United States.’”