The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
With summer fast approaching, millions of Americans are wondering if and where they'll be able to travel this year. No industry has been upended more than travel and tourism. We asked Scott Thuman to find out what you can expect when you hit the road.
Facing an international travel shutdown and domestic Covid restrictions, 2020 was the year of the road trip. this summer many are hoping for a change. a major one.
Travel spending was down 42 percent, that's nearly $500 billion, seriously hurting the 11% of Americans whose jobs are tied to the industry.
Tori Emerson Barnes is Executive Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Travel Association.
Tori Emerson Barnes: We still are seeing travel down significantly, and while we are starting to see a rebound in domestic travel, international borders are still shut down, and business travel and business meetings and events are not happening, and they're not going to be for some time. And that really is a significant part of the travel industry.
Getting business travelers back will be critical this year, especially conferences and conventions that in 2020, lost more than $100 billion in spending.
Emerson-Barnes: Business travelers usually spend more money. They're the ones staying in the hotels Monday through Thursday. Right now, we are seeing again, more of that domestic upswing, but from a spending perspective, it is much, much lower.
Last month, Emerson Barnes and other travel industry representatives from Las Vegas and Florida voiced their worries took their concerns to a newly created Senate subcommittee for tourism focused on what the government can do to help. Their key message - travelers are confused.
Emerson Barnes: You've got some states where you can gather as many as 5,000 and you have some states where you still can't gather more than a hundred.
Scott: What does that mean for the traveler?
Emerson Barnes: Well, it means confusion. If we can gather in sporting arenas, if we can gather in restaurants, we should be able to gather for a professional business meeting. We've got a ton of traveler sentiment that says that they want clear messages. They don't want mixed messages. And right now, there isn't one place to go. And even if you do go to the CDC website, there's so much information that it's really hard to distill where you can and cannot go.
When it comes to international travel that remains largely shutdown, there’s a big push by the airlines and travel industry to get governments to speed up and open routes between countries with low numbers of cases.
Emerson Barnes: We're looking at a U.S./U.K. corridor as the best way to start to open up international travel.
Scott: How soon could that happen?
Emerson Barnes: We are pushing for that to happen in early July. We think it makes sense to start with the U.S./U.K. corridor and expand out from there with other low risk countries and really it's critical from an economic standpoint.
Scott: How encouraged should we be seeing United Airlines adding new international flights to Greece and to other places?
Emerson Barnes: Well, United adding that flight is awesome, but it's because Greece is allowing U.S. visitors to go there, right? We're not doing the same. And so, if we want these types of routes to, to come forward and to be able to be sustained, we're going to have to open our international borders.
A return to the friendly skies though, may be dependent, on something more:
Scott: You talked about people having the vaccine and how that's going to be key in many ways, to getting people back on the road, show they have to have a vaccine passport?
Tori: We don't like to use the word “vaccine passport” because passport implies that it is required as a passport is to fly internationally. So, we're calling them COVID health credentials, and we think that they can be really helpful.
But about a dozen states, like Florida, are already banning or promising to outlaw their potential use, the White House won't weigh in and Emerson Barnes says fake vaccine cards are already selling online.
Another area she says the government should relax rules, is at sea.
Scott: So, you think there should be cruises right now?
Emerson Barnes: The folks that like to cruise, like to cruise, and they want to get back out there. And we think that they should be able to, especially if they've been vaccinated or they can show proof of a negative test.
Ultimately though, she suggests a vast majority of Americans may have to get their shots, to get a shot, at packing their bags once again.
For Full Measure, I’m Scott Thuman.