We reported a couple of weeks ago that some “big guns” had communicated with the U.S. Department of State to restart the processing of passports. With that, Americans who needed to get or renew their passport would be ready when other countries were agreeable to letting U.S. citizens into their country.
Who knows if it was influence vs. coincidence, but about a week and change later, the U.S. DOT announced passport processing would begin shortly. Hooray!
Welp, those “big guns,” in the form of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), which represents over 140,000 American travel agents, now has their eye on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Their president and CEO, Zane Kirby, penned a letter to CDC director Robert Redfield, asking for them to set clear standards across all travel modes and for public health officials to make consumers aware when it’s safe to travel again.
“Our research indicates this message from the government (regarding consumer safety) will outweigh any other messages—from travel suppliers, from government officials outside public health departments, even from friends and family in influencing consumer confidence,” Kirby wrote in the letter.
He continued that while the CDC has issued very specific communications for cruise travel, its other efforts have been “uneven at best.” Kirby added, “In the absence of clear communication, the entire population remains essentially in the dark, left to rely on a patchwork of regional, state and local pronouncements to inform their decision making with respect to travel. Airlines, hoteliers, cruise lines, tour operators, car rental companies, insurance providers and others are similarly left to their own devices as to when to restart operations in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic. This uncertainty is, unquestionably, inhibiting the pace of the revival of the travel industry, a goal we know you share.”
The ASTA president suggested the CDC work towards the following goals:
- Setting clear standards across all travel modes
- Prioritizing the restart of the cruise industry
- Prioritizing the resumption of passport processing
- Prioritizing the resumption of international travel
Click here to see the entire document.
My take on this:
I think some of the goals that Kirby wrote are spot-on; getting a handle on the backlog of nearly 2 million passports that need to be processed is something that can certainly be worked on before we can travel internationally. Setting clear standards for each travel-related entity is also not too much to ask, I don’t think.
However, I think some of the other goals are a little, “too soon.” The number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. are skyrocketing, with no clear directives to help decrease the numbers until appropriate medical intervention is a reality. With that in mind:
- People can be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and allowing however many hundreds or thousands of people onto the close quarters of a ship, some of them contagious but not knowing it, would be a recipe for COVID Goulash.
- The way things are right now, no foreign country in its right mind should let Americans in, nor should they allow their citizens to visit here if they want to keep them safe from the risk of contracting then potentially spreading the virus.
However, even if these goals aren’t realistic in the short term, they’re definitely important for the longer term.
The letter also brings up a very important point. We’ve had minimal to no directives from “the top” to help us wade through this. If the White House is unable or unwilling to focus on Americans’ health, perhaps an appeal to the CDC will help. After all, they’re an entity with the sole purpose of watching over and giving direction towards public health. Even if the eventual goal is towards travel, the means to do that is keeping us healthy.
Maybe that will be the kick in the pants for adequate leadership for this thing. If not from the top, then the next step down.
Hey, a girl can dream, right? (Note from Joe: You keep dreaming.)
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary