Politics of Travel Latest Travel Restrictions, SAFs, BB8, and tales of U.S. Leg. Summit

I was all packed, I had a fresh haircut and was arranging my documentation for my trip to the GBTA Conference, Berlin in partnership with VDR when bigmouth COVID struck again and the Conference was postponed. I am disappointed, but I know that the conference will be excellent come this spring. And, who doesn’t want to be in Berlin in the springtime?!

For those on the fence, let me say the impact of in person meetings can’t be understated.

The GBTA Convention exceeded my expectations – I hope it did for you as well. The joy of seeing so many of you was overwhelming. I ran into people I hadn’t seen in two plus years. I had meaningful conversations about work and our personal lives. I hadn’t realized how much had been lost until I experienced these personal connections. THANK YOU to those who were in Orlando.  PS. Sitting here writing this an ad for Facebook Portal came on – virtual isn’t even remotely close to in person.

CASTLES MADE IN SAND: With the sudden emergence of the Omicron variant, some countries had kneejerk reactions and issued travel bans. These bans were of concern to GBTA. Also, of concern were reports of the Biden Administration considering quarantines regardless of vaccination or testing status and additional countries being banned from travel.

GBTA took the message that any actions taken should focus on vaccination or recovery status and individual traveler risk, instead of broad-reaching travel restrictions or border shutdowns to EU Officials, Congress and the Administration – we thank all those who listened to the travel industry! That said, the reaction of governments to go right to travel bans was very concerning. We will continue to push that travel can be done safely and is vital for economic and the well being of people. We ill remain vigilant for those that don’t understand risk mitigation vs risk elimination and push for additional unrealistic restrictions.

24 HOURS: On December 2, the Biden Administration introduced new actions for Omicron variant, White House Fact Sheet Of note for travelers is the shortened time from 72 to 24 hours for pre-departure testing protocols by requiring all inbound international travelers to test within one day of departure globally, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. Here is the link to the CDC guidance. It looks as if PCR and Antigen tests are still acceptable. There was some question as to whether at home antigen tests would be allowed, but the questions haven’t been answered as of yet. These new rules will go into effect the week of December 6.

The new rules also extend the requirement to wear a mask on airplanes, rail travel, and public transportation through March 18.  Fines for noncompliance will continue to be doubled from their initial levels for noncompliance with the masking requirements – with a minimum fine of $500 and fines of up to $3,000 for repeat offenders. You can read more here on CNN or you can read the White House Press Background Briefing transcript.

STEAL MY SUNSHINE: This past Wednesday United Airlines completed its first-ever passenger flight using sustainable aviation fuel (SAFS). The Boeing 737 MAX 8 used SAF in one General Electric and Safran-made engine, and standard jet fuel in its second engine. The aircraft flew from Chicago O’Hare to Washington D.C. carrying over 100 travelers.

GBTA is a supporter of SAFs and sustainable measures. If you didn’t attend the GBTA Convention in Orlando, you missed an outstanding session and fantastic panel discussion. SHH don’t tell anyone, but you can watch it here

HEAD ON: GBTA along with 70 travel and tourism organizations of the European Travel Committee sent a Tourism Manifesto in response to the European Commission’s new proposals for harmonising travel rules within and to the EU – including the proposed validity period of the EU Digital Covid Certificate of 9 months – IMPORTANT. The Manifesto can be read here

ROLLER COASTER OF LOVE: Last night Congress cleared a stopgap funding patch, H.R. 6119 (116), with each chamber acting in quick succession. The bill will keep the government operating and maintains funding at current levels until Feb. 18. A group of conservative senators had demanded a simple-majority vote on defunding President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate on U.S. businesses, which failed 48-50. Minutes later, the Senate cleared the funding bill, 69-28. So we have that going for us in the U.S. but there are several more items that need passed including raising the Debt Limit. And don’t forget about the Build Back Better plan that is still being hashed out.

EV CREDIT EH?: Speaking of the BBB, Canadian International Trade Minister Mary Ng is finalizing her three-day mission in D.C. today. The assignment was to double down on efforts to get the U.S. to back down on the controversial EV tax credit for U.S. automakers in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.  Prime Minister Trudeau raised concerns about the proposed EV tax credit IRL at the Three Amigos Summit a couple of weeks ago. it’s unclear if the measure will remain in the Senate’s version of the BBB reconciliation bill, but my guess is it will.

BLISTER IN THE SUN: For those in the U.S. we are planning to relaunch the Chapter Challenge and I have RFPS out in D.C. looking for a location for the Legislative Summit. The dates will likely fall into the weeks of June 6 and 13th. SAVE THE DATES! We will need you to attend to push for the Industry!  So you prepare for blisters in the sun and humidity

Shane Downey
Vice President, Government & Community Relations
[email protected]
(O) 703 236-1131
(C) 703 459-7425