The US government will likely announce an end of testing requirements for incoming travelers. If the Biden administration does go through with the new guidelines, it would mean a massive boost for the cruise industry.
A senior administrator said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would lift its requirement for travelers to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the US.
The move, due to go into effect for US-bound air travelers at midnight on Sunday, would remove any testing requirements for all those wishing to vacation in and travel to the United States.
The United States To Remove Testing Requirements
According to CNN, a senior member of the Biden administration has been quoted as saying that the US will be removing all testing requirements for incoming travelers starting Sunday, June 12. Several US lawmakers, including Democrats and Republicans, have been lobbying to remove the mandate in recent weeks.
According to the administrator, the CDC will be lifting the restriction that the tourism industry has been lobbying against for many months. The official said the CDC has determined that the measures are no longer necessary based on the science and data that is currently available.
Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto said: “I’m glad CDC suspended the burdensome coronavirus testing requirement for international travelers, and I’ll continue to do all I can to support the strong recovery of our hospitality industry.”
The decision will be reassessed in 90 days, and a decision will be made if it needs to be reinstated or if the measures can be brought back even further. The testing requirements have been a thorn in the side of the tourism trade.
Representatives of the tourism industry met with White House officials last week. During the talks, the White House acknowledged there was little scientific basis for entry requirements which have been maintained for more than a year now.
“Requiring pre-departure testing creates uncertainty for travelers, one more hurdle that may lead them to choose a destination with less friction,” Marriott CEO Tony Capuano said in a statement to CNBC. “The U.S. will miss out if we don’t eliminate those unnecessary barriers.”
Lifting the testing requirements could lead to an estimated additional 5.4 million visitors and $9 billion in additional spending in 2022. The cruise industry, in particular, is feeling the effects, as it already has a testing requirement to board the cruise ships.
Good News For Cruise Industry
The announcement would be great news for the cruise industry. Cruise lines have dealt with heightened and extra health and safety measures since the sector started sailing in earnest in July last year.
For many potential cruise ship passengers coming from abroad, the entry requirements were a reason not to book a cruise yet. Besides having to undergo an antigen or PCR test before flying to the United States, guests would have to do another, usually expensive, test before boarding the ship.
Gus Antorcha, president, Holland America Line said: “This is exciting news for Holland America Line and our guests as we complete our return to service this week with all 11 ships in our fleet back in operations. It removes a barrier to travel for some guests who understandably wanted to avoid the uncertainty of return testing.”
Antorcha continues, “At Holland America Line, we continue to operate vaccinated cruises and have created a safe and healthy environment for our guests, our teams, and the communities we serve, helping to ensure cruising is among the safest forms of socializing and travel. And we continue to offer our Worry-Free Promise to allow flexible cancelation for cruises booked by September and departing through December.”
Foreign guests sailing on cruise ships is a significant economic factor for the cruise industry and the leisure industry around the homeports in the United States.
In 2019, more than 1 million guests from Canada sailed from a US homeport, 570,000 guests from Brazil sailed from a US homeport, and 280,000 from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.
Removing the testing requirements for entry into the United States will take away most of the trepidations that guests have to travel to the US for a cruise. It would make travel more accessible and open the cruise market to at least 2 million potential passengers.
Although good news for incoming travelers. Removing a testing requirement upon entry to the US does little for US-based cruise ship passengers. The CDC has shown little to no willingness to remove any of the health and safety measures that are in place onboard cruise ships.