The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is calling upon the US government to urgently speed up approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine to help restore vital transatlantic travel.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the main health authority in the US, this week approved the Pfizer vaccine.
However, it still does not currently recognise AstraZeneca as an approved Covid-19 vaccine.
Even if the Biden Administration allows borders to reopen, the non-recognition of AstraZeneca will be a significant barrier to transatlantic travel between the UK and the US, the WTTC said.
America will effectively remain off-limits to the majority of Brits – and many millions more around the world – who are vaccinated with the AstraZeneca drug.
AstraZeneca has the largest global reach of all current vaccines and has currently been administered across 176 countries and territories, highlighting the importance of its approval in the US.
WTTC says CDC non-recognition will continue to seriously depress consumer demand and prevent any meaningful revival of transatlantic travel from the UK to the US.
It will also continue the serious knock-on effects throughout the tourism sector on both sides of the Atlantic.
United States carrier JetBlue recently launched its first transatlantic flights from New York to London, while Aer Lingus, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines are all due to add new routes or extra capacity to cater to increased demand from the US to the UK.
Virginia Messina, WTTC senior vice president, said: “It’s crucial the US authorities step forward to formally approve the AstraZeneca vaccine as a matter of urgency to enable cross-border mobility and the return of transatlantic travel between the UK and US.
“Unless they give it the green light then the US will effectively remain closed to the vast majority of UK visitors and the many millions around the world who are double-jabbed with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“This will leave airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, hotels and the entire tourism infrastructure, which depends upon transatlantic travel, in significant trouble for the foreseeable future.”
WTTC warns that the current CDC approval process could take months to give AstraZeneca the all clear.