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U.S. pre-departure testing is crucial barrier to international travel, survey finds

Experts say lifting the requirements could boost tourism to the U.S.

Plane flying over mountains
Photo (c) guvendemir - Getty Images
Just weeks before the doors of the summer travel season blow wide open, a new survey shows that vaccinated international travelers consider pre-departure testing requirements as a barrier to them visiting the U.S.

The survey – conducted by Morning Consult for the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) – took the pulse of vaccinated international travelers in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and India, which are countries that contribute a lot of tourism to the United States. 

Major international U.S.-based carriers like United, American, and Delta may be concerned because of these findings:

  • Nearly half of respondents (47%) who are unlikely to travel abroad in the next 12 months cited pre-departure testing requirements as a reason for not doing so. 

  • Another half of respondents (54%) said pre-departure testing requirements would have a sizable impact on their likelihood to specifically visit the U.S.

  • A large majority of adults surveyed (71%) said they prioritize traveling to destinations without cumbersome entry requirements, including 29% who strongly agree with that sentiment.

Saving the summer travel season

Despite the bleak projections, the USTA says the U.S. government still has time to save the summer travel season and quicken the travel industry’s recovery.

While half of the survey respondents said they wouldn't travel from abroad to visit the U.S, another 46% of respondents said they would be more likely to visit if pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated adults were lifted.

The USTA said the removal of the pre-departure testing requirement would likely lead to 20% more travelers coming to the U.S. this summer than previously anticipated. Willis Orlando, a senior product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights, concurs.

“Since the travel industry started to recover, we’ve seen time and time again that the removal of barriers to entry to any single country-particularly testing requirements has been correlated with increased bookings,” Orlando told ConsumerAffairs. 

“Not only would a removal of the pre-departure testing requirement for entry to the U.S. help boost the number of international visitors coming to the U.S., giving a boost to everyone in the travel and hospitality business, but it would also help give more Americans the confidence to strike out and go abroad again,” he added.

Orlando says there are good fares to be had for Americans who are willing to adhere to testing requirements before they come back home, mainly because of the lagging demand for international business travel.

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