Breaking Travel News interview: Chris Thompson

The United States has reopened its borders to travelers from a host of countries following nearly two years of closures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As well as the UK, the travel ban is being lifted for people from Brazil, China, India, Ireland, South Africa, Iran and the Schengen countries – a group of 26 European nations.

The milestone is one of the most significant in the reopening of global tourism and Chris Thompson, chief executive of Brand USA, here tells Breaking Travel News what it means for the North American travel sector.

Breaking Travel News: The United States tourism sector is celebrating the reopening of borders to fully-vaccinated travelers from key markets around the world – how much has this lifted the mood in the hospitality sector?

Chris Thompson: It’s been an amazing lift for the industry.

The excitement started to build when the announcement was first made at IPW.

Then, after the November 8th date was announced and once the entry protocols were made public, the energy and renewed sense of optimism has been palpable.

We’ve waited more than 600 days, so everyone’s more than ready.

BTN: Ahead of the reopening, you were in London for Brand USA Travel Week Europe – what were the aspirations here?

CT: When we started planning this event last year, we knew it would be important to host a face-to-face, industry event in Europe in 2021.

Once we learned the United States borders would reopen just two weeks after Travel Week Europe, the event took on even greater importance for the industry.

All the stars aligned for the right event at the right time.

Conversations shifted from speculation based on an unknown date to tangible planning to welcome Europeans back to the USA.

Interestingly, with our event coinciding with the reopening of our borders, we gained strong, unanticipated interest to attend from chief executives of destination marketing organizations from across our country.

So, we added a new element in the form of a separate chief executive track, which had these leaders meeting with European media and airlines, as well as stakeholders and travel trade to share our collective stories bringing the USA back to the European market.

This track for them exceeded our and their expectations, and we plan to replicate and expand it at future Travel Week Europe events.