Mr. Jeffrey Zients
COVID-19 Response Team Coordinator
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. Zients:
On behalf of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), I applaud the Administration’s efforts to provide clear public health guidance and to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations to all Americans. For the global business travel industry, worth $1.4 trillion annually (2019), and the millions of workers who make up this dynamic part of our economy, your efforts are helping us return to normal.
However, our industry is still struggling and, until we reopen international flights, such as those between the U.S. and Europe, we will not be able to fully recover. As the EU has proposed last week, we urge the Administration to begin easing transatlantic business travel for vaccinated individuals effective immediately.
GBTA is the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade association headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations in 38 U.S. chapters and across Europe, Canada, Africa and Latin America. GBTA’s 9,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually.
GBTA delivers world-class education, events, research, advocacy, and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts. Moreover, the business travel industry has supported 7.4 million jobs and generated $135 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.
Your Administration deserves immense credit for dramatically ramping up vaccine availability throughout the country. This logistical challenge was a remarkable accomplishment in a country of 330 million people. Given that you have repeatedly exceeded your own goals, we were heartened to read of your recent announcement to deliver at least one shot to 70% of adult Americans by the Fourth of July holiday.
GBTA members believe vaccinations are the key to resuming business travel. In our recent survey of business travel professionals, nearly 80% reported they would be “very comfortable” or “comfortable” traveling for business after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.
The international community has already begun to work with stakeholders on a phased approach that balances the public health challenges with the need to support their respective travel and tourism-based economies.
Recent efforts by the EU are promising. GBTA applauded the European Commission last week for its initiative to ease restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU for vaccinated individuals. The EU’s proposal allows entry to the EU for non-essential reasons for all persons coming from countries with diminishing rates of COVID-19 cases and for individuals who have received the final recommended dose of an EU-authorized vaccine. Additionally, the EU is recommending that vaccinated travelers from the U.S. be given access to the EU this summer.
The new proposal provides an effective model to re-open international travel between the U.S. and Europe. We encourage the U.S. to restart transatlantic travel for travelers who have been vaccinated or who can show a recent negative COVID-19 test.
The return of smart and safe transatlantic business travel will give a much-needed boost to an industry that has been deeply scarred by the pandemic. Given the enormous success of the Administration’s vaccine strategy, we urge you take the next step to fully realize the benefits of the vaccine efforts across the economy and to enable the recovery of business travel. We believe this may also spur many Americans still reluctant to get a vaccine to go ahead and get that shot now.
Chief Executive Officer
Global Business Travel Association