Published July 27, 2021
Many vaccinated Americans are delighted that they can visit Europe again, and they will soon be able to drive into Canada as well. President Biden, however, has thus far refused to return the favor, largely keeping in place restrictions to tourists from those regions. That’s a big mistake, both for our economy and our foreign policy.
International tourism and business travel is important to our economy. International visitors spent more than $181 billion in the United States in 2019, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. That total plummeted to just $42 billion in 2020, thanks to travel restrictions put in place during the pandemic. Hotels, restaurants and airlines would all benefit if travel were restored to prior levels, helping the economy recover.
It makes no sense for the United States to continue to restrict travel from the European Union, Britain and Canada (Canadians have been able to fly into the United States, but they are still not able to drive across the border). This is especially true since large numbers of people from those places are fully vaccinated. Britain and Canada have now vaccinated a higher percentage of their populations than the United States, and vaccination rates in the European Union are now roughly equal to those here. Data continue to show that fully vaccinated people are much less likely to contract or spread the virus, and those who do suffer far less serious illness than people without the vaccine. Allowing fully vaccinated foreigners from these countries thus poses little risk to Americans’ health.