The International Inbound Travel Association (IITA) commends the Biden administration for taking action to safely reopen borders by forming “working groups” from several agencies, including the CDC and National Security Council and announcing a joint travel task force with the UK while in the UK for the G7 Summit.
“Every step forward brings us closer to resuming international inbound travel and tourism that delivers millions of visitors to the U.S. and contributes billions in spending for the nation’s economy,” said Lisa Simon, Executive Director, of IITA. “With vaccination progress here and abroad, particularly in the primary source markets like UK and EU, the timing and conditions are right to reopen our borders.”
While this development is a positive signal that opening the borders is a priority for the administration, it also suggests that reopening is not in the immediate future, which is detrimental to the inbound travel industry. Inbound tour operators have been without business for 15 months, and the limited financial aid from the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan will not sustain these businesses much longer.
The International Inbound Travel Association (IITA) has been urging Congress to move forward with the Securing Access for Venue Equity (SAVE) Act (H.R. 2120) that would provide sorely needed funding for inbound operators.
“This sector was completely shut down when the federal government closed the borders in March 2020, and inbound tour operators’ businesses has decreased 90-100% over the past year,” said IITA Chair Peter van Berkel, President of Travalco, a South Florida-based operator.
“Travel and tourism has suffered more than any industry and inbound international tourism has been hit the hardest and will take some time to come back even with borders reopened.
Our industry needs immediate relief funds to stay in business so that it is in a position to re-create demand and facilitate the comeback of international inbound travel which was the # 1 services export for the USA in 2019 and delivered a $ 51 Billion positive trade surplus on a total of $233 Billion in Travel exports."