USTA supports airlines’ call for COVID-19 testing

The association said the testing is necessary to restore lost jobs in travel industry

The U.S. Travel Association endorses a call by the U.S. airline industry for the federal government to pilot a COVID-19 testing program for international airplane trips.

THE CORONAVIRUS HAD a long journey to come to the U.S., so naturally it arrived by airplane. Now the airline industry is calling on the federal government to implement testing for the virus in travelers on international flights in an effort to encourage international travel to this country to resume.

The U.S. Travel Association issued a statement endorsing the airlines call for testing.

“We have long maintained that testing is the key to both safer travel and reopening the economy. More rapid, efficient testing allows for a broader reopening of the travel economy and will enable organizations to more quickly restore lost jobs and rehire workers,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, USTA’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy. “Importantly, a robust testing program would allow America to welcome back international visitors, a segment of travel that has effectively disappeared since the start of the pandemic.

“Increased COVID-19 testing—paired with a federal framework of relief, protection and stimulus, as well as adherence to healthy travel habits such as wearing masks—can help shorten the recovery time and put America on the path toward an economic revival.”

Last week, the World Travel & Tourism Council announced that the U.S. stands to lose $155 billion as a result of that sudden, steep decline in foreign visitors. International visitor spending may drop 79 percent this year as a result of the pandemic, according to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report. That equals a loss of $425 million a day, or nearly $3 billion a week, to the country’s economy. The loss in revenue can lead to a loss of 12.1 million travel and tourism jobs in WTTC’s worst case scenario.