Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of the inbound travel industry and our members – inbound tour operators, we commend you for your recent actions to safely reopen borders by forming a task force to reopen travel between the UK and US and forming White House working groups that will develop a roadmap for lifting international entry restrictions. Every step forward brings us closer to resuming international inbound travel that delivers millions of visitors to the U.S. and contributes billions in spending for the nation’s economy and is one of the strongest parts of a positive balance of trade.
We further applaud your decision to share vaccines with other countries to bring down virus levels worldwide. As businesses that rely on international travel to the U.S., constraining the virus in other countries is of utmost importance.
With the vaccination progress here and abroad, the timing and conditions are right to lift entry restrictions, particularly in the primary source markets like the UK and EU. A clear roadmap and timeline will provide the inbound travel industry and our international tour operator partners with the much-needed certainty to begin planning and booking travel to the U.S.
While these actions are positive developments, it will take some time for international travel to come back even with borders reopened. Time that many inbound tour operators and small businesses depending on international travel do not have.
Serving only international travelers to the U.S., inbound tour operators have been completely shut down since the federally-mandated border closures in March 2020, and their business volume has decreased 90-100% since then.
Inbound tour operators are critical to the recovery of international inbound travel as they create demand for leisure and business travel to the U.S. They have a worldwide network of trusted travel trade partners poised to meet the pent-up demand of travelers from all markets, which in turn will drive international business to other travel and hospitality sectors, like hotels, transportation companies, attractions and restaurants, throughout the country.
International travel was the #1 services export for the USA in 2019 and delivered a $51 billion positive trade surplus on a total of $234 billion in travel exports. Due to the pandemic, the U.S. lost $150 billion in export income and 1.1 million jobs in 2020 and is projected to lose an additional $175 billion by the end of this year, unless entry restrictions are lifted.
We respectfully urge the administration to act quickly in developing the roadmap and timeline for the safe return of international travel and provide financial support for small business inbound operators to ensure they are in a position to drive the recovery efforts.
Much of the inbound business is booked well in advance and the longer lifting restrictions takes, the more urgency there is for support to be provided. We have been advocating for Congress to pass relief funding legislation for small business tour operators as provided for in the Securing Access for Venue Equity (SAVE) Act (H.R. 2120).
Mr. President, we urge you to support this critical legislation, as well as including relief funds in your budget or any supplemental proposals to support the recovery of the inbound industry.
We would be happy to bring together inbound operators from across the country to meet with you or the working committees to provide expert input into the inbound travel market recovery.
You may reach either of us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-955- 9098. Thank you, Mr. President.
Peter van Berkel