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Industry leaders urge Biden to lead the way in restarting international travel

Leaders of 23 global travel companies and organizations have sent President Biden a letter urging greater progress toward reopening international travel and warning of dire economic consequences if U.S. borders remain shut.

The letter, signed Tuesday by the U.S. Travel Association, Airlines for America and the top executives of 21 hotel, airline and cruise companies, reiterated an industry call for establishment by the end of May of a public-private taskforce to develop a risk-based, data-driven roadmap for safely reopening international travel to the U.S.

And, like a letter sent to the administration Tuesday by the airline industry, it said reopening efforts should start by pursuing a "public health corridor" between the U.S. and the U.K., given its importance as a travel market and its similar pace of vaccinations and declining infection rates.

"The U.S. must be a global leader in restarting international travel," the letter said. "Using science and data as our guide, it is possible to reopen our borders and establish these important public health corridors."

The letter also cited U.S. Travel data that shows steep declines in international travel in 2020 resulted in the loss of $150 billion in U.S. export income and 1.1 million domestic jobs. If nothing is done to lift entry restrictions, the letter said, the U.S. is projected to lose an additional $175 billion by the end of this year.

"While U.S. borders remain closed to much of the world, the remarkable scientific advancements to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and the tremendous vaccine deployment achieved by your administration have allowed the safe resumption of many activities," the letter reads. "For all its economic and cultural contributions, international travel should be among them, and it will hasten the economic recovery we all desire."

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