Travel industry groups welcomed the CDC's relaxation of travel guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans with open arms on Friday but cautioned that it is only the beginning of the full resumption of travel and more still needs to be done.

Under the new guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals can resume domestic travel provided they wear masks and continue to socially distance. Further, the guidelines relax testing and quarantine guidelines among fully vaccinated travelers.

"For well over a year, various CDC orders intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) have created confusion and uncertainty among travelers, a chilling effect on future bookings and innumerable other challenges for our travel agency members," Eben Peck, executive vice president of advocacy for ASTA, said in a statement. "We are pleased to see some movement in the right direction."

Roger Dow
Roger Dow

U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow agreed, calling the new guidance "a major step in the right direction."

"Acknowledging that vaccinations eliminate the need for testing and quarantines removes a key barrier to domestic travel," Dow added. "Rescinding the recommendation that international visitors must quarantine also is an important incremental step."

Peck agreed on the point about international visitors. He also said restrictions on cruise travel need to be relaxed going forward.

"At a minimum," Peck said, "we call on the CDC to take these common-sense steps and to publish a framework for travel's reopening so advisors and their clients can plan with certainty and to continue work on systems to establish vaccination, immunity or a negative test result so that international travel can restart in earnest."

The World Travel & Tourism Council called the announcement "an encouraging step and one that we would like to see replicated in other countries around the world."

"WTTC has been calling for a clear roadmap to reopen international mobility with predeparture testing for non-vaccinated travelers only, alongside health and hygiene measures," said WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara. "Despite the delay in commenting whether or not the health organization recommends travel, today's CDC announcement will give a much-needed boost to the sector and will empower U.S. travelers to feel secure in resuming travel."

Reaction from the tour operator community was also positive.

"This announcement comes as welcome news to everyone in the industry," said National Tour Association president Catherine Prather. "Many of our operators anticipated this next step and were scheduling tours that allowed vaccinated or negative-tested clients to climb aboard."

Catherine Prather
Catherine Prather

Prather said she was also encouraged by the CDC saying that vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested prior to leaving the U.S. to visit other countries, although some destinations may require a negative test. "While we're eager to see more borders open up to travelers worldwide, today's CDC guidance is a positive step in a promising direction."

Mike McCormick, co-founder and CEO of industry advocacy group Travel Again, said traveler confidence remains one of the biggest hurdles to resuming travel.

He called for more clear guidance from governments around the world.

"Implementing new travel-related policies and standards must be a top priority for not only the U.S. government but also for our allies abroad, if we are going to restart our global economy," McCormick said.

Jeri Clausing contributed to this report.

UPDATED: This report was updated on April 3 to include a comment from the World Travel & Tourism Council.

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