The Biden administration’s decision to uphold international travel restrictions as been greeted with dismay by the US travel industry.
US Travel Association public affairs and policy executive vice president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes called for an urgent rethink.
The organisation was responding after White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed that existing travel restrictions would be maintained “at this point” due to the spread of the Delta variant.
“Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely continue to increase in the weeks ahead,” she said despite intense lobbying by airlines in a bid to reopen transatlantic routes this summer.
America currently bars most non-US citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the UK, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without internal border controls, or in Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
The US Homeland Security Department said US land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain shut to non-essential travel until at least August 21 despite Canada saying it would start allowing fully vaccinated American tourists in from August 9.
The US government has reportedly been talking to US airlines in recent weeks about establishing international contact tracing for passengers before lifting travel restrictions.
Meanwhile, The Times reported that US travellers will be allowed to enter the UK and avoid quarantining if they produce vaccine cards proving they have been double-jabbed, as part of a drive to open up transatlantic travel.
Ministers are expected to sign off plans this week for US citizens arriving in the UK to be able to present the cards they were given when they were vaccinated as sufficient proof.
The UK is prepared to make the concession because the US has yet to develop a consistently used digital form of proof for vaccinations, according ton the newspaper.
Emerson Barnes said: “Covid variants are of concern, but closed borders have not prevented the Delta variant from entering the US while vaccinations are proving incredibly durable to the virus’ evolution.
“This is why America’s travel industry is a vocal proponent of everyone getting a vaccine – it’s the surest and fastest path to normalcy for everyone.
“While other nations, like Canada, the UK and much of the EU, have all taken steps to welcome inbound travellers this summer and rebuild jobs and local economies, the United States remains closed to one of the most important segments of the travel economy – the international inbound traveller.
“Given the high rates of vaccination on both sides of the Atlantic, it is possible to begin safely welcoming back vaccinated visitors from these crucial inbound markets.
“We respectfully urge the Biden administration to revisit its decision in the very near term and begin reopening international travel to vaccinated individuals, starting with air corridors between the U.S. and nations with similar vaccination rates.”