South Florida’s tourism industry received a significant boost on Friday after the US government promised to waive COVID testing requirements for international travelers departing from foreign cities.
The requirement urged passengers bound for the US to be tested for COVID-19 during the day before boarding a flight. It was one of the last remaining government mandates to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The change is seen by tourism industry leaders as an important step towards repairing a key missing link that has plagued tourism-dependent airlines, airports and cities for more than two years. South Florida’s three international airports in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Miami serve airlines arriving from foreign countries in the Americas and Europe.
“Repeal of this policy will help stimulate and restore air travel to the United States, benefiting communities across the country that rely heavily on travel and tourism to support their local economies,” said Nicholas E. Calio, President and CEO Airlines for America. industrial trade group in Washington. “We are excited to welcome millions of travelers to the US for leisure, business and family reunions.”
Stacey Ritter, president and CEO of Visit Lauderdale, a tourism promotion agency in Broward County, said the move “could not have come at a better time. This is a really good time to pick it up. ”
“It has definitely affected international air travel, there is no doubt about that,” she added. “This is really the last remaining restriction that is now being lifted. This can only have a positive economic effect for us.”
In essence, the resurgence of international travelers will help fill the expected void that is expected due to the cooling of the months-long hot travel market.
“There will be softening in the market,” she said. “Prices are really high and that affects people’s travel plans. At present, the price of gas does not seem to affect people’s travel plans, but it does affect the cost of hotel rooms. The level of travel we are looking for now is not sustainable. It’s an overheated market.”
The rule cancellation also comes just in time for Norse Atlantic Airways, the Norwegian carrier, which is starting direct flights between Fort Lauderdale and Paris on June 20.
“People want to travel non-stop,” Ritter said. “It will help a lot. We have never had direct flights from Paris, and we will have a completely new market to promote our destination.”
In recent years, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has gained international air carrier status as Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines have expanded their route systems to Latin America and the Caribbean.
As travel demand has rebounded over the past year, many international airlines serving Miami…