The United States reopened its borders for fully vaccinated travelers from dozens of countries on Monday, end more than 18 months of international travel restrictions that left families separated from loved ones and cost the global travel industry hundreds of billions of dollars in tourism revenue.
Under the new rules, fully vaccinated travelers you will be allowed to enter the U.S. if they can show proof of vaccination and a negative coronavirus test taken within three calendar days of travel. Unvaccinated Americans and children under 18 are exempt from the requirement, but must take a test within one travel day.
The change has come in time for the holiday season, when the troubled tourism industry eagerly awaits an influx of international visitors, especially to popular big-city destinations like New York, Los Angeles and Miami. The extended travel ban from 33 countries, including European Union members China, India and Iran, devastated the sector, leading to losses of nearly $ 300 billion in visitor spending and more than a million American jobs, according to the USA Travel Association
“Monday begins the return of international travel in earnest, when long-separated families and friends can safely reunite, travelers can explore this amazing country and the US. They can reconnect with the community. global, ”said Roger Dow, Association President and CEO. “It is a monumental day for travelers, for communities and businesses that depend on international visits, and for the US economy as a whole.”
Airlines saw a large increase in online searches and ticket reservations for international travel, particularly from Europe and Latin America, after the administration announced its plans to ease travel restrictions in September.
American Airlines said bookings in the three days after the announcement jumped 66 percent for flights between Britain and the United States, 40 percent for Europe and 74 percent for Brazil, compared to a similar period. One week before. United Airlines said it sold more tickets for transatlantic flights in the days after the announcement than during a similar period in 2019, for the first time since the pandemic began.
Delta Air Lines said that many of his international flights on Monday were sold out. The airline’s first flight to the United States under the looser restrictions, DL106, is expected to arrive from São Paulo, Brazil, at 9:35 am Monday in Atlanta. By the end of Monday, Delta expects to fly 139 planes, mostly complete, from 38 countries to the US.
Hotels across the country, particularly those in cities, were also impacted by the reopening announcement, with bookings and interest spike during the holiday season. Hyatt, the hotel group, said that roughly 50 percent of its international traveler bookings to the U.S. for the week of November 8 came after the date was announced in mid-October, and travelers flocked in mass to major cities.
Chef Daniel Boulud, who owns several restaurants in New York City, said customers from abroad had already started calling to make reservations or get on a waiting list.
He added that while his restaurants were already “pretty busy,” fueled by domestic tourism and a trickle of international visitors, “the tap was not yet open for tourism.” International tourists, he said, will bring the necessary foot traffic, particularly to their restaurants near the Theater District.
Many of the planes leaving for the United States in the coming weeks it will be full of travelers who are reunited with family and friends after more than a year of separation. Felicity Fowler, a retired London homeopath, missed the birth of her grandson. He was born in New York in April; He has not seen his daughter, his mother, since February 2020.
“It has been emotional torture to be so far away from my girl at a time when she has needed me the most,” he said in an interview. “We need to make up for lost time.”
While demand has increased, the changes have not had a significant immediate effect on the number of scheduled international flights. In the first week under the relaxed rules, airlines will operate an average of 1,390 daily flights to the United States, just 35 daily flights more than the previous week, according to figures from Cirium, an aviation data provider. However, the data does not indicate how many seats have been sold per flight and the number of daily flights is expected to increase again, by 40, in the second week after the reopening.
With the continuing risks of coronavirus variants and the uncertainty of the course of the pandemic, the US Travel Association does not expect inbound international travel to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024.