Will LA see a boost in tourism when COVID test rule expires?

Los Angeles tourism industry leaders hope the Biden administration’s plan to end COVID-19 testing requirements for international travelers will spur visits by big-spending foreign visitors.

The rule that requires international airline passengers arriving in the US to check within a day of boarding their flight will expire at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, according to a senior administration official. East. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to preview the official announcement, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had determined the rule was no longer needed but could reinstate it. if a troublesome new variant emerges.

The policy change is big news in Los Angeles, which has ranked in the top three US destinations for international visitors, who often stay longer and spend more than domestic visitors. country. Before the pandemic, China’s growing middle class helped fuel a spike in Chinese tourists in Los Angeles, spending an average of about $6,900 per visit, according to US Travel Assn, a consortium. trade for the country’s tourism industry.

“Our City of Angels is ready to roll out the red carpet for visitors from around the world,” said Adam Burke, president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Commission, ahead of the news. ie.

According to the board, in 2019, Los Angeles County welcomed 7.4 million international visitors and 42.6 million domestic visitors. International visitors spent $11.6 billion that year, about 56% of total tourism spending even though they accounted for only about 14% of total visitors. In 2020, visitor numbers drop to 27.7 million, with tourism spending falling to $10 billion. Tourism experts estimate the district will welcome around 40 million visitors in 2021.

The Biden administration made the request for the test last year when it removed restrictions banning non-essential travel from several dozen countries – mostly Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Iran. . It comes with the requirement that foreign adults who have not immigrated to the United States be fully immunized, with only a few exceptions.

The original rule allowed fully vaccinated persons to present proof of a negative test within three days of travel, and unvaccinated persons to present a test that had been performed. within one day of travelling. In November, as the highly contagious variant of Omicron spread around the world, the Biden administration strengthened regulations and required all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to be tested within one day in America.

Aviation and travel groups have been pressing the authorities for months to scrap the testing requirement, saying they discourage people from booking international trips. Many other countries have lifted testing requirements for full vaccinations and boosted travelers in an effort to boost tourism.

However, the move comes amid an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County.

The local tourism industry responded positively to the impending policy change.

Danny Roman, who runs Bikes and Hikes LA, a travel agency for visitors to the city, has struggled so much during the pandemic shutdown that he was forced to add a store that sells and bike repair into his tour business for a living. He hopes the change in US testing policy will bring the kind of business that flourished like he had in 2019.

Before the pandemic, international visitors accounted for about 60% of his business.

“We are very excited,” he said. “We expect this kickstart to kickstart our summer as we depend on Europeans, Australians and Canadians to drive home sales.”

“We are excited to welcome the millions of travelers who are ready to come to the United States for vacation, business and to reunite with loved ones,” said Nicholas E. Calio, president and chief executive officer of Airlines for America, a commercial consortium for the national airline. industry, said in a statement Friday.

Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer of US Travel Assn, “Today marks another major step forward for the recovery of domestic air travel and the return of international travel to the United States.” Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer of US Travel Assn. said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-06-10/covid-testing-international-travel-lax Will LA see a boost in tourism when COVID test rule expires?

Edmund DeMarche

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