Fourteen leaders of top travel-related companies sent a letter to President Donald Trump and House and Senate leaders on Monday 27 July in which they requested broader Covid-19 testing that is also made quicker, returning results within 24-48 hours. The letter from the U.S. Travel Association asked that the improvements be added in the next round of coronavirus relief legislation.

Restoring the American Travel Industry

The letter stresses that one of the greatest challenges the U.S. will face while going through economic recovery due to the pandemic is restarting the American travel industry valued at $2.6 trillion. It states that the travel industry has lost more than half of the 15.8 million jobs that it supported in 2019. This is projected to cost the U.S. economy $1.2 trillion by the end of this year. The industry would need tactical measures in place to provide relief, protection, and stimulus to travel businesses which mostly comprise of small businesses. They termed the broader and more efficient 24-48 hour testing method as an indispensable component of efforts towards recovery of the nation.

The TEST Act Legislation

The industry CEOs recommended the TEST Act as a good starting point. The bipartisan legislation that was introduced to the Senate would up the Federal government’s contribution to Covid-19 testing through increased resources and collaboration tools. The industry, after gathering and analyzing data on the pandemic and its effect on the travel economy concluded that “broader testing—in concert with other key factors such as a robust federal policy framework of relief and stimulus, rigorous health and safety standards adopted by travel-related businesses, and the universal embrace of good health practices (such as the wearing of masks) by the public—is an essential component of reopening and recovery. To maximize effectiveness, it is also important that testing methods return results within 24 to 48 hours.”

The letter said that passing the TEST Act and adopting a robust method of Covid-19 testing would assist with certain aims of the industry. It would promote healthy and safe travel. It would help to keep employees safe and businesses running. It would also help in determining whether reopening is safe and whether economic relief will be needed.

The leaders stated that they believed that “a strong federal role is both necessary and appropriate to achieve the necessary enhancements to our national testing capability”. If the legislation is passed, there would be an improvement in testing and reporting practices to the HHS and CDC and together with experts in laboratory and epidemiological systems, there would be more rapid and accurate testing.

The letter urged the federal government to continue leading in the development of a national strategy to combat the pandemic and facilitate economic recovery. They also advised it to keep validating new testing technologies and protocols as they emerge.

The letter that was signed by heads of leading hotels and enterprises in the travel industry comes just a week after the U.S and European Union were urged to set up a joint Coronavirus testing program to restore confidence in transatlantic air travel.

Written by contributor Victor Kanake. Source: USA Today