After almost two years, and an international travel ban, the United States has reopened its borders to fully vaccinated international travelers from dozens of countries. Fully vaccinated travelers may now enter the US if they can show proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test taken within three calendar days of travel. Unvaccinated Americans and children under the age of 18 are exempt from the requirement, though they must take a test within one day of travel. Full guidelines are available here.
The timing is perfect for the stressed hospitality industry looking for a robust holiday travel and shopping season to get back on track. Per the US Travel Association, the pandemic resulted in losses of almost $300 billion in visitor spending and over one million American jobs. In New York City, tourism is an over $80 billion sector and there are reasons for optimism. Per Travelport, a global technology company that powers travel bookings for hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotels worldwide, flight bookings to and within the US have already reached 70 percent of their pre-pandemic levels. New York City is the top US travel destination with Miami, Orlando, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco all bracing an influx of visitors.
Chef Daniel Boulud, owner of several restaurants in New York City, said that customers from overseas had already started to call for reservations or to go on a waiting list and added that while restaurants were busy due in part to domestic tourism, International tourists, will bring necessary foot traffic, in particular to his restaurants near the Theater District. “To have people coming back from Europe and around the globe to eat at our restaurants and drink at our bars is tremendous” added New York City Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie. “It’s going to be a pivotal milestone in our economic and tourism recovery for New York City” said New York City and Company’s Chris Heywood.
Continuing the positive outlook this holiday season, spending has the potential to shatter previous records. The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasts that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent over 2020 to between $843 billion and $859 billion.