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WTTC says UK Government should pay for PCR tests immobilising the travel & tourism sector

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) says the UK Government should bear the cost of PCR tests for fully jabbed citizens, which are deterring Britons from travelling.

Recently, 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-19 test firms.

The cost of PCR tests varies between providers, with the average costing around £75. However, some firms are offering express PCR test results within 90 minutes at a cost of up to £400. This makes UK PCR tests among the costliest in Europe, partly due to the additional 20% VAT.

The WTTC says the UK Government should pay for people’s PCR tests in full, if they are fully jabbed. This would remove the financial burden, which is depressing demand for travel and halting the revival of international travel.

If the Government won’t pay for PCR tests, the WTTC argues it should replace the need for PCR day two tests from green and amber countries with affordable and effective antigen tests, for fully vaccinated travellers. As in other countries, only those testing positive should need to take a PCR test.

According to research by WTTC knowledge partner, YouGov, almost half of British adults (47%) 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%. Meanwhile, more than half (53%) 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.

Virginia Messina (pictured), 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. It’s clear that many British adults simply can’t afford to travel overseas at all if they have to pay the excessive cost of PCR tests.”

“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. But if the Government wants extra information for genomic sequencing, they should pay for it. If they don’t pay, then consumers will vote with their feet and avoid international travel altogether, further damaging the already struggling UK Travel & Tourism sector.”

Messina continued: “At the very least, we support the investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to look into the excessive pricing of PCR tests which is deterring the revival of international travel. “Unless the Government sees sense and accepts the financial responsibility for PCR tests for the fully vaccinated, WTTC fears the UK Travel & Tourism sector is going to continue to buckle while demand for travel remains repressed.”