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US Travel Association Urges Biden To Start ‘Next Chapter Of Travel’

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Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, recently addressed the current state of travel and outlined a bold strategy and call to action for the Biden administration to pursue.

During the annual State of the Travel Industry speech delivered via live webcast from the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Wednesday (27/1), Roger Dow urged aggressive government actions be taken to form the “Next Great Chapter” of travel. 

The Association called for intense federal funding amongst various initiatives. 

Plane hovering over Washington Capitol Building

Since the inception of the pandemic in March, the U.S. travel industry has suffered a loss of $500 billion and witnessed an unemployment rate of 51%, as Dow put into perspective, “more than double the national rate at the height of the Great Depression.”

In this regard, Dow stated, “Our goal is not simply to recover what we’ve lost but to rebuild an industry that’s even better positioned than before the crisis, one that’s more globally competitive, more innovative, and more unified. This is the opportunity for a new Congress and new administration to work with our industry to revive our nation’s economy, restore millions of lost jobs, and bring Americans together again. ”

travelers at Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco

Reviving the Industry 

The U.S. Travel Association’s Power of Travel – Policy Platform highlights five key areas of focus to rebuild the industry and position future growth. 

Enact Economic Recovery Measures to sustain and grow the U.S. travel economy and workforce.

Increase Global Competitiveness to prepare the U.S. to welcome back visitors from around the world and to compete for international tourism dollars.

Prioritize Investments in Infrastructure and the Future of Mobility so the U.S. can emerge from the pandemic with stronger, more connected systems than ever before.

Re-imagine the Air Travel System with better, more innovative technologies to meet the shifting demands of providing a safe and expedient travel experience.

Enhance Travel Facilitation Programs to increase security, accessibility and efficiency across the travel ecosystem.

The documents details policies for the Biden Administration to immediately enact within its first 100 days in support of the following aims:

Establish a national plan to restore domestic travel and reunite America by rapidly developing public health and COVID-19 testing guidance to safely resume travel, and enacting aggressive economic stimulus measures to boost travel demand and bring back jobs. 

Safety reopen international travel through risk-based COVID-19 testing protocols, remove international travel bans and set a goal of welcoming 116 million visitors to the U.S. by 2028.

American flag O'Hare International Airport Chicago

Involvement from Biden Administration

Roger Dow highlighted three practices in which support from the current administration is vital.

1. Expedite Vaccine Distribution

Alongside unyielding compliance to health and safety protocols, Dow urged the federal leadership to expedite the roll out of vaccines. He labeled vaccine distribution as a priority for the Biden administration, and that everyone should get vaccinated as soon as shots are readily available. 

2. Building Confidence in Domestic Travel

Dow encouraged the administration to organize a national plan to build confidence in domestic travel through structured public health guidelines and to scale travel demand with rigorous economic stimulus measures. 

plane flying over New York

In response to testing requirements on domestic flights, Dow said he opposes the idea, however, favors it in regards to international travel. He noted that health and safety protocols paired with testing are more effective than mandatory quarantines

3. Safely Resume International Travel 

The travel association suggests the administration safely resume international travel through risk-based COVID-19 testing practices and remove international travel bans. To facilitate such measures, Dow outlines a streamlined approach to handle the resurgence in travel demand. 

  • TSA Precheck, Global Entry, Sentri and Nexus should be consolidated into a single program
  • Global Entry and Preclearance locations should be expanded to Visa Waiver Program countries
  • The U.S. should expedite visas for low-risk applicants and automate non-immigrant visa applications
Los Angeles infrastructure US

Infrastructure Investments

The US Travel Association envisions an opportunity to update infrastructure, develop new modes of transportation, and accelerate recovery by committing to a national infrastructure plan.

Accordingly, the Association calls on the federal government to invest $550 billion in highways, transit systems, railways and airports over the next five years. 

To support this vision, Dow suggested the current administration encourage and fund state and local planning organizations to formulate bold transportation strategies to increase travel and enhance mobility.

Additionally, tax credits and incentives should be offered for greater investments and sustainable transportation solutions.

biometrics technology airport

Biometric Technologies

Dow emphasized the need of innovative technologies to enhance the air travel ecosystem, stating:

“One important way to strengthen air travel is to accelerate the implementation of biometric technology. Biometric identification provides faster facilitation, greater accuracy and a more secure travel environment. These touchless systems also create a more convenient, hygienic user experience – an important factor in dealing with the current public health crisis.” 

Subsequently, he addressed the Biden administration to increase biometric exit systems currently active in 20 airports and seven seaports, and to set and communicate distinct standards for privacy and security.

“Biometric data must be used for identification purposes only, not for surveillance or law enforcement purposes. Americans should have the option to participate voluntarily, giving our citizens the choice to opt out of biometric screenings for any reason.” added Dow.

REAL I.D. Act 

Dow related that the Real ID act should be expanded and the enactment date postponed. As the requirement of Real ID is set for October of this year, Dow says the time span is unrealistic given the current circumstances. 

“According to the Department of Homeland Security, only 38 percent of Americans are REAL-ID compliant. {…} Given the low compliance rate and the complications of the pandemic, many Americans could be turned away at the airport gate unless the deadline is reasonably pushed.” said Dow.

He continued that REAL ID enforcement should be postponed until it can be verified through metrics and that its effect does not derail the travel industry’s recovery.

Furthermore, Dow suggested the federal government develop alternative screening methods for travelers arriving at airports without a REAL ID.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


Friday 29th of January 2021

I support the desire for travel to get back to normal as soon as possible.

However, please do not expand Global Entry to anyone. It is already available for anyone who wants to pay the money and undergo the background check.

Expanding it beyond that will turn it into PreCheck, where it almost means nothing and has little to no benefit in a lot of places.

Stephen White

Friday 29th of January 2021

Sorry, but I can't agree with the above. My wife and I got Global Entry several years ago and it come with TSA Precheck. We find TSA Precheck to be invaluable in terms of saving time and inconvenience at the airport. I don't see how you can see it "means nothing and has little to no benefit." Maybe not to you, but it does to me.