WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Biden administration is starting to plan for the eventual return of more international travelers to the U.S.
Non-essential international travelers from some countries are still barred from visiting the U.S. while travelers from other countries are allowed in.
“If we don’t do anything now, by the end of the year the U.S. will lose $90 billion and 1.5 million jobs,” warned Roger Dow, the president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
Dow said international travel is crucial to the U.S. economy but the Biden administration said now is not the time to open the country to international travelers.
“We will plan to maintain existing travel restrictions at this point,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Hospital ICU beds are filling up across the U.S. due to the delta variant. The Biden administration said agencies are working to develop plans for international travelers to return to the U.S. in a safe and consistent way — but only when the time is right.
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. “may need to have some type of a vaccine requirement” once the U.S. opens to tourists and other non-essential travelers.
“We’re okay with this being a first step — over the long-term, we think the travel community and countries have to figure out multiple ways you can enter a country,” said Dow.
Dow said when travelers return, the money and the jobs will return, too.