New Travel Regulations Encourage Tourist-Dependent Boston Businesses

Vaccinated people visiting the U.S. from more than 30 countries will soon be able to do so without quarantining if they test negative for COVID-19; the Biden administration's new policy has a beleaguered tourism sector hopeful for a recovery

NBC Universal, Inc.

There were times during the coronavirus pandemic when Boston pushcart owner Kemal Akdogan didn't think he'd make it.

"I'm sure if we didn't have the help, a bunch of us could go homeless," said Akdogan, who sells all types of toys and novelties at his Illusions pushcart at Faneuil Hall.

The tourist mecca took a giant hit when the pandemic struck.

"There were so many days we came here at 9, 10 in the morning," said Akdogan. "We went home, 5, 6, with zero dollars."

Akdogan says 90% of his business is from tourists, and now, the tourism industry is hoping for a surge in visitors.

"I would be so happy and so glad to see them here," he said.

The Biden administration has announced that visitors from more than 30 countries, including most of Europe, will soon be allowed back in the U.S. They'll need to be fully vaccinated and provide a negative COVID-19 test, and they won't have to quarantine.

"The easing of the travel restrictions is vital for our recovery, so it couldn't come any sooner," said Martha Sheridan, CEO of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. "International visitors stay longer and spend more money. So we're excited we'll be able to start the recovery on this particular sector."

Travel expert Gary Leff, author of the influential website View From the Wing, says there has been a strong indication of a rebound in the 24 hours after the announcement was made.

"We already saw a 700% spike in the U.K. in travel searches to the U.S. with the announcement," said Leff. "People are going to be very excited to make that first trip."

The restrictions will likely be lifted in early November.

"We're pumped," said Joseph O'Malley, the general manager of Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

He says about 15% of the businesses did not survive the pandemic.

There has been a surge in domestic tourism this summer, but international travel is really needed, too.

"That's going to open up a lot more possibilities for tourism to come in," said O'Malley. "A lot more visitors that will help the local merchants down here."

Contact Us