California’s tourism industry is anxiously awaiting the day when international travelers will be able to again visit the United States. And that day will come in less than two weeks as on November 8 fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed to enter the U.S. through air travel as well as across land borders with Mexico and Canada.
Tourism Is Vital
This long-awaited date is vital to California’s continued economic recovery, as tourism supports more than a million jobs and contributes billions of dollars to the state’s economy. The tourism industry took a significant hit last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with visitor spending in California dropping to $65.10 billion, compared to $144.9 billion in 2019, according to Visit California.
Foreign travelers are highly valuable customers, often traveling in off-peak periods and planning trips well in advance. Gateway cities are especially dependent on tourists. For example, 59% of pre-pandemic travel spending in San Francisco was by international visitors. Although many beach, resort and mountain destinations are outperforming 2019 room demand, the recovery has not been as quick in California’s gateway cities.
Along with the return of international visitors, recovery will also be hampered until meetings and conventions return. Visit California reports that this segment contributed $66.1 billion in direct spending to California’s economy in 2019.
To enter the U.S., international travelers will need to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative COVID-19 test before flying. Acceptable vaccines include Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved/authorized and World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listed (EUL) vaccines.
Children under 18 are exempted from the vaccination requirement for foreign national travelers, given both the ineligibility of some younger children for vaccination, as well as the global variability in access to vaccination for older children who are eligible to be vaccinated.
To view the full list of travel requirements and exceptions, visit The White House website.