Biden administration hails industry input in formation of new travel policy

Input from the travel and aviation industry played a key role in the formation of new policy which will see America’s borders reopen to overseas travellers from November 8, a representative of the US government has told Travel Weekly.

Sarah Morgenthau, deputy assistant secretary for travel and tourism at the US Department of Commerce and a senior member of the Biden-Harris administration, said the new policy had been developed with public health to the fore and in consultation with the private sector which would be required to implement it.

Speaking at the start of Brand USA’s Travel Week in London, she said: “The United States and the Biden administration has understood the importance of international travel. It is critical to our economy, it is critical to connecting family and friends and to fuelling small and large businesses.

“That is what is behind this new international air travel policy that both enhances the safety of Americans and the safety of international air travel.

“In creating this new policy, we followed the science and guidance by our public health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guided us throughout and they had the data that tells us how this new stringent and consistent policy will keep travellers safe.”

She added: “The protocols have been guided by science and guided by public health, but also have been in close collaboration with our industry partners who have been patient, have been resilient and have provided us with concrete recommendations that the government has tried to incorporate as it looks to November 8 and beyond.

“That is another reason why the government really wanted to provide that date (November 8) well ahead so that there was time both for the US government and for the private sector, especially the airlines, to make it successful.”

Morgenthau said she hoped that the reopening on November 8 would be “seamless” and that the US would be able to “bring in as many international travellers as possible”.

She also insisted UK visitors should have confidence to travel despite nuances in Covid guidance and protocols across different states and cities.

She said: “Travellers can expect that there will be new protocols in place but the hope is that when they get into the country they will be able to forget the complexities or added administrative elements and will be able to come to the United States and enjoy all it has to offer.

“The United States is ready to welcome the world back.”

She added: “States and cities have authority to require certain things of people in their jurisdictions, and this is also true of the private sector. However, it is only the federal government that has the authority to grant permission to enter the United States and I don’t anticipate that local requirements will be problematic to the recovery of travel and tourism.”

Chris Thompson, chief executive of Brand USA, said a core pillar of the marketing organisation’s remit was to communicate protocols in the destination to ensure both consumers and the travel trade were kept informed.

He said: “Where there are differences, we are doing the best we can to keep up with those and make sure that our friends [in the trade] and visitors have access to that so they know what the requirement will be wherever they are headed.

“I have been on the road as much as I have ever been and I haven’t experienced anything out of the ordinary or what people will not have experienced here [the UK].”

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