Government urged to pay tourists’ PCR tests with prices five times the cost of the flight
The government has been asked to pay for Covid travel PCR tests for vacationers, with swabs costing more than five times the price of a round-trip flight to Europe.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the industry on a global scale, urged the government to step in and pay for PCR testing for double-bitten travelers or replace the need for a PCR by a less expensive lateral flow test.
Demand for action on ‘scam’ PCRs increased last week when figures from the NHS Test and Trace revealed less than one in 50 test results are positive and only five percent are genome-sequenced for research variants.
Last week, ministers were urged to cap the cost of the tests, which are priced between £ 20 and £ 399, and remove VAT on them to prevent travel from becoming ‘preserving the rich’.
The tests mean families currently have to pay hundreds of extra pounds to go abroad.
Virginia Messina, senior vice president of the WTTC and acting chief executive, said: “If the government wants more information for genomic sequencing, it should pay for it. If they don’t pay, consumers will vote with their feet and avoid international travel altogether, further damaging the already struggling UK travel and tourism industry.
“For many people – especially families and small budget businesses – the crippling added cost of unnecessary PCR testing makes the difference between being able to travel or not.
“It is clear that many UK adults simply cannot afford to travel abroad if they have to pay the excessive cost of PCR testing.”
A study by MPs looked at the prices of flights to popular European destinations later this month and compared them to the average cost of a single PCR swab after returning to Britain – finding them much more expensive, reported the Daily Mail.
MPs found out that Ryanair was offering round-trip flights from East Midlands Airport to Barcelona and Exeter to Alicante for just £ 18 between 24-27 August. Research has estimated the typical cost of a post-return PCR test to be £ 93, meaning the cost would be five times that.
The test was nearly four times the cost of a return flight from London Stansted to Madrid and more than double the price of tickets to destinations such as Berlin, Budapest and Faro in the Algarve.
The cost estimate does not include the price of a swab before returning before boarding planes to the UK, which holidaymakers must also pay.
Those who are not fully vaccinated face even higher bills as they have to take two PCR swabs after returning on days two and eight.
Last week, Bharat Gadhoke, commercial director of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), said I the additional cost of testing for a family of four is £ 276.
As Dan Clark, from London, who took his family to Malaga, Spain with his wife and two children, recounted I the tests for the trip cost them just under £ 400 while the family’s return flights cost them just £ 100.
Conservative MP Henry Smith, chairman of the multi-stakeholder group Future of Aviation, which conducted the flight study, said: “These numbers show that testing for international travel has become little more than a tax on travel. , adding a huge drag on travel. .
“When the cost of testing can be more than the price of a ticket, it is clear that the current system is not fit for purpose and needs urgent reform to stop the scam fees that we are seeing now. .
“Ministers urgently need to consider a cap on the total cost of testing. It is high time the government tackled this problem.
Ministers insisted that arrivals go through PCR testing as they are considered more accurate and can be “sequenced” for mutant strains of Covid. Greece and Italy have capped the price of PCR tests, while in France they are £ 42 or free for citizens.
Yesterday, PCR testing firm Randox, which is said to have made £ 120million processing 15million tests since the start of the pandemic, was criticized for having ‘unsafe’ drop boxes after customers found them overflowing with uncollected samples in various places.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also announced it was investigating the cost of PCR tests after Health Secretary Sajid Javid asked them to help eliminate “exploitative behavior “and” unfair practices “.