April 22, 2024

Reaction to US reopening: ‘Christmas has come early’

The travel industry is celebrating after the US confirmed it will open its borders to the UK and 32 other countries from November 8.

Fully vaccinated travellers who have had a negative test in the 72 hours before travelling will be allowed to enter from that date.

Tough restrictions have prevented travel from the UK to the US since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The US had indicated that borders would reopen in early November but had not confirmed a date until last Friday.

Here’s how the business travel sector reacted:

Suzanne Neufang, CEO GBTA

I am delighted that the US will reopen its borders to the many countries shut out for so many months. In our most recent GBTA pandemic recovery poll, nearly 75% of respondents wholeheartedly agree with this particular action. International travel is critical to promoting global trade and growing worldwide understanding. It’s a much-needed milestone of support for the business travel sector worth $1.4 trillion to the global economy.

Ariel Cohen, CEO TripActions

TripActions has already seen domestic US and domestic EU flight bookings reach near-pre-Covid booking levels, while volume from Europe to the US has only reached 30% compared to January 2020. This announcement, which provides a consistent approach to health and safety policies, will remove the most significant barrier to full business recovery.

Jason Oshiokpekhai, Managing Director of Global Travel Collection

Christmas has come early with the news of the US reopening to vaccinated UK travellers. This is a critical travel route for each division of our business – corporate, entertainment and leisure – not to mention what it will mean for families and friends who can finally reunite.

While the announcement comes too late for many, it is a move that will accelerate our course of recovery and gives wind to the progress we are eventually making as an industry. We can now begin to recover from the economic suppression this has held with rewarding business projects now able to complete which will benefit businesses, industries, jobs and the economy on each side of the pond.

John Keichline, CEO North America, Reed & Mackay

The first two weeks of October 2021 have seen a 76% increase in the volume of UK-US air bookings as compared to the same period in September 2021. Following the announcement today that US borders will re-open to fully vaccinated travellers on November 8, we expect to see this increase further. The news will be welcomed by our clients and suppliers as another important step in the return to travel.

Andrew Crawley, American Express Global Business Travel’s Chief Commercial Officer

We are pleased the White House has confirmed a date and details for the implementation of its new global travel policy. For the last 19 months, we’ve seen that a world without travel is less prosperous and less tolerant. The safe reopening of US borders to international travellers will reconnect cultures and economies, driving growth for businesses of all sectors and sizes.

Scott Davies, CEO ITM

The reopening of arguably the UK and Ireland’s most important trade and travel corridors is excellent and long-anticipated news. We will now see the pent-up demand for business travel between our nations released. Consistency and simplicity of the testing protocols will now be essential.

Clive Wratten, CEO Business Travel Association 

Today’s confirmation that US borders will reopen to fully vaccinated travellers on November 8 is excellent news for British business. With over £200 billion in annual trade between our two countries, the US has been an integral part of so many UK business travel itineraries.

The re-start of this vital corridor will pay huge dividends for both economies, and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, and is another important step on the road to recovery for the business travel sector.