On September 20th, the Biden administration announced that it would lift travel restrictions starting in November on foreign travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, effectively ending an 18-month ban on travel from 33 countries, including members of the European Union, China, Iran, South Africa, Brazil, and India.
This is welcome news to the U.S. tourism industry that has been crippled by the pandemic, suffering a $500 billion loss in travel expenditures in 2020, according to the U.S. Travel Association. In 2019, the country saw 79.3 million international arrivals. That number dropped to 19.4 million in 2020.
Here’s What We Know: New U.S. Policy Questions and Answers
Which Countries Are Included in the Travel Ban Lift?
- European Countries: Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
Under What Conditions Can Foreign Travelers Enter the U.S.?
Foreign travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding their U.S.-bound flights and a negative coronavirus test within three days (72 hours) of departure.
What About Unvaccinated Americans Who Want to Return to the U.S.?
Unvaccinated Americans who want to travel home from overseas will have to clear stricter testing requirements. They will need to test negative for the coronavirus one day before traveling to the United States and show proof that they have bought a test to take after arriving in the United States.
Which COVID-19 Vaccinations Are Accepted?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will release a list of accepted vaccinations before the new policy goes into effect, as well as a contact tracing order that requires airlines to collect information such as phone numbers and email addresses of all U.S.-bound travelers. The CDC has not yet said whether foreign nationals who recently had COVID-19 and are not currently eligible to be vaccinated will be allowed to travel to the United States.
How Do the New Rules Affect People From Countries That Were Not on the Banned List?
The new policy applies to everyone who is not a U.S. citizen. Though vaccination status does not currently affect whether or not these individuals can enter the United States, in November only fully vaccinated travelers will be permitted.
How Will the New Policy Affect the U.S.’s Short-Term Rental Industry?
An Already Promising Holiday Season Just Got Even Better
Data captured shortly after Labor Day by Guesty shows that Christmas reservation volume across the U.S. is up 469% compared to 2020 and is currently 157% higher than pre-COVID 2019 volume. With restrictions on international travel now mostly lifted, it’s safe to assume that even higher increases in demand will be catalyzed by foreign tourists eager to spend the holidays in the States. That said, bookings may fluctuate due to a holiday impacted by flu season and the Delta variant.
International Travelers Will Be Extra Cautious
As a positive COVID test means missing their flight home, international travelers will be seeking out alternative options to traditional, crowded hotels. Property management companies offering contact-free or light-touch accommodations (keyless entry systems, digital concierges, etc.) will be able to advertise these features as a strong selling point to international travelers taking extra precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19.
Business Travel Will Slowly Return
Business travel which took a major hit due to COVID-restrictions and the subsequent emergence of virtual meetings and conferences will be making a slow return as more of these events return to an in-person format. As travel is still cumbersome, business travelers will seek to stay in the U.S. for more extended periods and work remotely. Airbnb reports an uptick of about 2.5x in the share of long-term stays for self-reported business travel. Property management companies supplying guests with attractive WFH amenities (strong broadband connection, multiple workspaces, etc.) stand to gain the most out of the return of this lucrative market segment.
Preparing for the Return of International Travelers With the Right Tools
As international travelers once again flood the gates of the U.S., competition to accommodate them will be fierce. Before the policy goes into effect in November, now is the time to ensure that you have the right tools in place to stand out from the crowd. Automating cleaning and guest communication processes will be crucial to provide international guests with the standard of service they’ll be expecting.
As always, Guesty will be keeping you updated with the latest on the pandemic’s impact on the short-term rental industry. Visit our COVID-19 Infocenter for more vital insights and tips.