Politics of Travel – It aint easy being green, US International Testing and more

As I have been traveling around to Berlin, Kansas City, Tampa, Milwaukee, and NYC as well as conversations with our Canadian members, Government Relations Committee members, so many of you cite the mish mash of testing requirements and entry and exit rules as barriers to travel. As you have told me, these measures simply do not permit flexibility or schedule changes. Instead they add tremendous uncertainty, hurt productivity, and create financial burdens for businesses looking to send employees on international business trips.

GBTA has been pushing for more consistent entry requirements and summarized this in our March 17 release calling on governments to drop testing requirements for vaccinated travelers.

LIGHT MY FIRE:Our efforts are paying off According to a recent NY Times article Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India,, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia…and more – do not require a test for vaccinated travelers NY Times, April 5, 2022 “I’m a U.S. Citizen. Where in the World Can I Go?”

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON:What jumps out is the U.S. is still one of the countries requiring a test 24 hours before departure for all inbound travelers.

After a long conversation with Representative Lou Correa (D-CA) discussing the testing issue and hearing from him some of his personal experiences, he accepted GBTA’s request and is leading a bipartisan House of Representative’s letter to President Biden, asking him to lift the predeparture testing requirement for vaccinated travelers. As of earlier this week, other cosigners include Representatives María Salazar (R-FL), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Ken Buck (R-CO), and Jim Costa (D-CA) with more coming on board.

GBTA continues to raise this issue in our meetings with elected officials in Brussels, Ottawa and Washington, DC. We are always on the lookout for partners that can deliver this message in other areas. Please contact me if you have ideas!

BEING GREEN: GBTA has flagged for governments the need to recognize the priority travelers are putting on green alternatives. Most recently, we included this in the comments to the Department of Commerce National Travel and Tourism Strategy.

Research show more travelers looking for sustainable options. A new study by MMGY Travel Intelligence shows that 6 in 10 travelers are also willing to pay more to companies that demonstrate environmental commitment. Younger generations, people with children, and people with higher incomes are most willing to pay more to companies that are environmentally friendlier. Eighty-one percent are also willing to change travel behavior to reduce impact on the environment, such as reducing the use of single-use plastics.

Shane’s Puddle Thoughts (as deep as a mud puddle): Those travel companies that recognize this now and allow the traveler to compare on the front end will gain a competitive edge.

MEH CANADA: The Canadian Government released its 2022 Budget this week. There are some good things like a refundable tax credit to accelerate the adoption of carbon capture, utilization, and storage and reduce GHG emissions in industries such as oil and gas, chemical production, and electricity generation. However, with respect to travel and tourism, it provides very little in relief or new programming to improve matters. Unfortunately, Budget 2022 offers only platitudes to working with provincial and territorial partners in the travel and hospitality sectors and lacks any real policy or funding initiatives that would immediately improve the current environment.

We will take this opportunity to speak to government and highlight the ongoing need for support for our industry.

TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY: a month or so ago, GBTA met with Grant Harris the nominee for the Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis position. This is an office we work closely with providing and receiving information on travel statistics as well as other initiatives.

Despite being unanimously supported, Senator Scott (R-FL) had placed a hold on all DOC nominees. As a result, we had a key office without any leadership during a time when the travel industry needs someone to advocate for the us. GBTA pushed back on this, GBTA and the Florida Chapters sent a letter calling for his immediate approval. We also organized an industry letter signed by several groups including the hotels, airlines, travel advisors and the airport parking operators. Last night, April 7 Mr. Harris’s nomination was approved and confirmed.

I received a text from him last night thanking GBTA for all of our help! 

So to close, it still remains true that you can get governments and elected officials to do good things. You just have to keep pushing and pulling different levers. GOOD DAY SUNSHINE!

Don’t forget to register for the U.S. Legislative Summit and come to DC and advocate on the need to end travel restrictions.

P.S. tell your friends to sign up here