The Biden administration should end its COVID-19 testing requirement for vaccinated passengers prior to traveling the U.S. because the virus is so widespread in states, travel industry leaders argued in a letter sent to the White House Wednesday.
The letter was addressed to Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, and said ending the requirement would support the recovery of the travel industry in the U.S. and not threaten public health.
The travel sector in the U.S. has good reason to show signs of cautious optimism. Travel spending in the U.S. nearly reached pre-pandemic levels in December 2021, the U.S. Travel Association said. Total spending hit $92 billion, which the group said was just 2% below December 2019 totals. The group pointed out that there has been a recent slowdown, but there seems to be a pent-up demand for future travel.
There is also room for growth for international travel. The report said overseas arrivals were still 51% below levels compared to December 2019.
The letter to Zients, who was the director of the National Economic Council under former President Obama, pointed out that more than 74.3 million Americans have had COVID-19 and also mentioned the record numbers coming down with the omicron variant. They see air travel as having little impact on infection rates.
"No new threatening variants appear to be imminent, but if they were, pre-departure testing could be easily reinstituted," the letter, which was signed by Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Aerospace Industries Association and others.