The U.S. Ends International Travel Ban, Likely Leading to a Surge in Visitors From Abroad

Nicholas Barron

The U.S. ended Monday travel restrictions on visitors from most countries, opening the door to what may be a surge in international visitors.

Starting on Monday, people from all over the world can travel to the U.S. provided they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and can provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. Those under 18 aren’t required to be vaccinated but must provide evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test result.

People fully vaccinated against COVID-19 need a negative test result no more than three days before arriving in the U.S. Those who aren’t fully vaccinated need a negative test result no more than one day before their arrival. Children under two are exempt from these requirements.

The U.S. will allow visitors from a list of about 50 countries where the COVID-19 vaccine is still scarce, but people from those nations need permission from the U.S. government before traveling to this country. Even then, these individuals can only come for medical or humanitarian reasons, not business or tourism.

Many industry experts expect the new guidelines will create a rush of international visitors coming to the U.S.

Airlines prepare for surge in international travelers

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. welcomed a little more than 79 million international visitors a year.

That number fell to 19 million in 2020, but the new travel guidelines may lead to a late-year surge in the number of people coming to the U.S. from other countries.

According to travel app Hopper, interest in traveling to the U.S. skyrocketed once the Biden Administration announced the new guidelines in Sep.

“Since September 20th when the U.S. announced its reopening to inbound foreign travelers, searches have risen 338% for international flights departing to the U.S. after November 8th,” Hopper said. “This suggests a strong recovery in international travel demand for flights to the U.S., approximately twice as strong as 2020 search demand this time last year.”

Delta Air Lines thinks most of its international flights to be at capacity on Monday. The company said in a press release that its international point-of-sale bookings are up 450%.

United Airlines expects about 50% more passengers on flights coming to the U.S. on Monday than the previous week. Next month, United will increase its international flights to 69% of its 2019 schedule.

American Airlines said they’re doubling their international flight capacity from this time last year.

Where in the U.S. are many of these international travelers planning to go?

Top destinations for international visitors

Hopper lists three cities as receiving the most international bookings since Sep. 20: Miami, New York City, and Orlando.

Meanwhile, according to Hopper, the most-trending destinations for international travelers are Tampa, San Francisco, and Miami. The travel app defines most-trending as cities whose searches rose the most compared to their weekly average before the new guidelines came out.

And towns and cities along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders should experience a rush of visitors.

In 2019, Canada accounted for the most international travelers to the U.S. That year, 20.7 million Canadians visited the country.

Meanwhile, 18.1 million people from Mexico traveled to the U.S. in 2019.

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