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Turns and Twists in the Return to F2F

News about new travel regulations and labor issues have planners on alert.

The past week’s fast-moving news underscores two responsibilities on the to-do lists of meeting and event planners with face-to-face gatherings planned for the next few months.

First, all international air passengers must now produce a negative Covid-19 result from a test taken no more than one day before travel to the United States, regardless of that passenger’s vaccination status. Prior to December 6, the rule was that international passengers had to show a negative Covid result from a test taken no more than three days before travel. The reduced time frame aims to "provide less opportunity to develop infection with the Omicron variant prior to arrival in the United States," according to the updated CDC order.

CDCimageCovid.pngAs a result, planner communications with international attendees should include information on the change in addition to their own Covid-related policies. (To understand all the possible scenarios for international travelers and returning U.S. citizens, see image at right.)

Second, last week’s release of a surprisingly weak jobs report for the hospitality, restaurant, and leisure sectors, is a red flag for planners. Those companies added just 23,000 jobs nationwide in November, and nearly one in 10 jobs across the sector that existed at the start of the pandemic have still not returned. Given this situation, planners should not only ask about anticipated staff levels and hours of operation for a host property’s F&B, leisure, and retail outlets, they’d be smart to find out about restaurants and other services within walking distance of the hotel.

Tori Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for the U.S. Travel Association, issued this statement on December 3: “The latest jobs report—the worst for the sector since January 2021—underscores the need for smart, effective policies as well as stability in the inbound and business travel segments in order to facilitate recovery. As more is learned about the Omicron variant, we must continue to welcome qualified global travelers from around the world, which will be critical to rebuilding the [hospitality] sector as well as advance the safe recovery of business travel and professional events. Temporary tax credits to spur increased business travel and emergency funding for Brand USA, the United States’ destination marketing organization, will help boost travel spending and accelerate job growth.”

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