The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has called on the UK government to foot the bill PCR tests for fully vaccinated citizens, calling the tests “hugely expensive and unnecessary.”
Over the weekend, the UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid requested the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) step in to investigate ‘excessive’ pricing and ‘exploitative practices’ among PCR Covid test firms.
This follows widespread reports of vast differences paid by travellers for PCR tests by different companies.
Currently, the cost of PCR tests vary enormously between providers, with the average costing around £75 (€88). However, some firms are offering express PCR test results within 90 minutes at a cost of up to £400 (€472).
This makes UK PCR tests among the costliest in Europe – partly due to the 20 per cent VAT charge applied on top.
The average cost of a PCR test in Ireland is between €90 and €100. However, fully jabbed travellers in possession of the EU Digital Covid Certificate do not have to get a PCR test for travel within the EU or the UK.
Huge Financial Burden
The WTTC, which represents the global private Travel & Tourism sector, says that the huge financial burden of testing is “depressing demand for travel, effectively halting the revival of international travel.”
Genomic sequencing data from PCR tests is harvested by the government to rapidly identify variants of concern, understand transmission and slow the spread, however WTTC challenges why consumers should have to pay for this.
Virginia Messina, WTTC Senior Vice President and Acting CEO, said: “For many people – especially families and small businesses on a budget – the crippling added cost of the unnecessary PCR tests makes the difference between being able to travel or not.”
“More affordable antigen tests, with PCR tests for those who do test positive, will help keep travellers safe and make taking a trip overseas within the budget of most people,” she added.
Depressing International Travel
According to research by WTTC knowledge partner, YouGov, carried out earlier this summer, almost half of British adults (47 per cent) viewed the financial costs of COVID-19 tests as a main barrier to international travel.
The research also found worries over the cost of tests were placed even ahead of personal health concerns, which came in at 34 per cent.
Meanwhile, more than half (53 per cent) of British adults said the cost of PCR testing will make a significant impact on their budget if they were to travel abroad this year.
WTTC has estimated that the impact of the pandemic upon the global Travel & Tourism sector has so far cost 62 million jobs in the sector and suffered a loss of almost US$4.3 trillion.