After 18 months, in early November 2021, the US will lift restrictions on travel from the UK and EU for double-jabbed tourists. But what do experts in the travel industry think about the decision?
In addition to the UK and the 26 Schengen countries in Europe, the easing of restrictions will also apply to Ireland, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and India.
Inbound travellers to the US will need proof of full vaccination before boarding their flight and a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. They will not be required to quarantine upon arrival.
Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, tweeted: “It’s a fantastic boost for business and trade, and great that family and friends on both sides of the pond can be reunited once again.”
What does the travel industry think?
Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council
“The prospect of the U.S. lifting travel restrictions to restore transatlantic travel between the UK and US is welcome news – not just for hard-pressed airlines but for the wider Travel & Tourism sector, which has been decimated by Covid-19.
“It will finally enable families to reunite, business travellers to resume face-to-face meetings and for travel and tourism to return for Brits looking to travel to America.
“The UK alone represents 8 per cent of all inbound travel to the US, accounting for US$40 million per day to the nation’s economy.
“WTTC has long-been calling for the US to reopen and our research shows that by opening its borders to key markets such as the UK, it will pump US$198 million back into the US economy every single day.
“WTTC strongly advocates for fully vaccinated travellers to be able to travel freely and safely, and for unvaccinated travellers to be able to do so with testing, alongside enhanced health and safety protocols.”
Steve Norris, managing director of of EMEA for Flight Centre
“This is the day we’ve been waiting for; President Biden’s decision to allow UK and EU travellers to enter the country without quarantine means a huge turning point for the travel industry.”
“Pre-Covid, 15 per cent of Flight Centre’s annual bookings were to the US, representing hundreds of thousands of customers. To Brits, the US represents so much more than our largest economic ally; we’ve been waiting with baited-breath for 18 months to see family, reunite with loved ones and explore the country once again.
“We applaud President Biden for his decision to revoke these restrictions following the incredible vaccine rollout on both sides of the Atlantic and have our agents prepped and ready to help Brits cross the pond for the first time in 18-months.”
Pablo Caspers, chief travel officer at eDreams ODIGEO
“Since the UK government announced a relaxation of travel restrictions we have seen a surge in interest from UK travellers. Over the weekend searches were up 49 per cent on the previous weekend, highlighting how the simplification of travel rules will give people increased confidence to plan trips abroad.
“Demand for October half-term holidays also spiked over the weekend – with destinations such as Tenerife, Dubai and Alicante featuring in the top five, with many travellers looking for a sunny holiday before winter.
“We expect this afternoon’s news, that there will be an imminent announcement on the re-opening of the US borders, to result in another spike of interest from British travellers, especially to classic autumn/winter destinations such as New York and Chicago.”
Andrew Crawley, chief commercial officer of American Express Global Business Travel
“After more than 550 days of shut borders, we are thrilled that the US will finally be reopening to fully vaccinated travellers from the UK and EU. There is huge pent-up demand for transatlantic travel among our customers and we fully expect to see a sustained spike in bookings. It is a positive step forward for global economic recovery and we await further details from the White House.”
Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic
“The US Government’s announcement that fully vaccinated UK visitors will be able to enter the US from November is a major milestone to the reopening of travel at scale, allowing consumers and businesses to book travel to the US with confidence.
“As the UK forges its recovery from the pandemic, the reopening of the transatlantic corridor and the lifting of Presidential Order 212F acknowledges the great progress both nations have made in rolling out successful vaccine programmes.
“The UK will now be able to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, the US, boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families and business colleagues. We are thankful to the UK Government, the Biden administration and our industry partners for their collaboration.
“The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years since our first flight to New York City in 1984. We are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic. After 18 months of uncertainty, we cannot wait to welcome our customers back onboard, flying them safety to their favourite US destination.”