Testing Requirement Is the Latest Curveball for the Travel Industry
Ms. Flynn showed her test results on her phone at the Turkish Airlines check-in counter…
Ms. Flynn showed her test results on her phone at the Turkish Airlines check-in counter at Istanbul Airport and kept a printed copy in case it was required when she landed.
“No one asked to see the results again, so it really was minimal hassle for the extra peace of mind,” she said. “ It’s comforting knowing that everyone else on the flight has tested negative, especially with all these new variants raging.”
Antigen tests accepted
The United States will accept results from rapid antigen tests, while other countries have been asking for what are known as polymerase chain reaction tests, or P.C.R. tests. Antigen tests have been found to be less reliable than P.C.R. tests.
Josh Walker is the chief operating officer of Nomi Health, which provides about 4 percent of the testing in the United States, conducting laboratory work and setting up laboratories, as well as working with many hotels in the Caribbean. Mr. Walker said that because antigen tests are less sensitive, some travelers could test negative and still be infected because their body’s viral load is not high enough for identification purposes.
“There will likely be a lot of discussions of what type of tests qualify because, let’s put it this way, if I want to find a negative test, I can find it,” he said, adding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not given that level of guidance just yet.
Popular destinations gear up
Mexico and countries in the Caribbean have remained popular destinations for American travelers even as other destinations closed their borders, in part because of their proximity to the United States, making them relatively easy and affordable to reach. In the fall, several U.S. airlines added flights to the Caribbean islands and to Mexico at a time when routes elsewhere were being cut. In November, nearly 500,000 Americans flew to Mexico alone, according to official figures.
Casa de Campo, the Dominican Republic resort, is about five minutes away from a hospital which shares ownership with the resort. The resort had already been offering antigen tests to guests heading to some European countries and Canada, where negative tests have been required since last year, but now with the U.S. requirement taking effect, the team at Casa de Campo has converted two adjoining rooms at the resort into a testing suite, with one room serving as a waiting area and the other as “something like a doctor’s office” with a nurse testing people inside, said Mr. Kycek.