While domestic travel continues to bounce back to near pre-pandemic levels in the U.S., international travel remains far behind, as travel bans to and from most countries continue after nearly a year-and-a-half. Now, a coalition of travel and business groups have sent a letter to the Biden Administration seeking to lift COVID-19 restrictions on international travel between the U.S. and some countries. "Effectively, we have a blanket ban on inbound international travel," says Steve Shur, president of the Travel Technology Association, which works extensively with the travel industry. "We think it's important that the policy should evolve with the improving data and scientific analysis of what's happening around the world."
Shur tells KTRH the current status of a one-size-fits-all approach to restricting international travel is outdated and unnecessary. "The more logical approach is a more country-by-country analysis, and allowing inbound international travel to resume for countries where vaccination rates are high or similar to the U.S.," he says.
"There are some short-term opportunities we believe can be taken advantage of," he continues. "Particularly, reopening travel between the U.S. and U.K., where vaccination rates are similarly high."
So far, the White House isn't biting. In response to the coalition letter, a White House spokesperson told Reuters "there are further discussions to be had before we can announce any next steps on travel reopening with any country."
Shur and his group want to see those discussions move faster. "Data and science suggest that safely reopening international travel is absolutely possible, and it should happen sooner rather than later," he says.