The average cost of PCR Covid-19 tests in the UK is more than double the price charged in other European countries at £128 per person, according to research.
PCR tests are set to play a key role in the planned restart of international travel from 17 May, as laid out on Friday (9 April) by the government’s Global Travel Taskforce, with travellers required to take these tests after returning from even the lowest risk “green” countries under the planned new traffic light system.
But research by Abta and the Airport Operators Association found that PCR costs in the UK cost an average of £128 per person compared with an average of just £62pp across eight key European destinations.
The high costs of PCR tests are seen as a potential deterrent to holidaymakers booking international trips this summer, particularly for families and short-haul travel.
Mark Tanzer, Abta’s chief executive, said: “Travel to the lower risk, green categorised countries should be as unrestricted as possible. The requirement for a PCR test when you arrive back from a green list country could prove a cost-barrier for many people – we welcome the fact that the government commits to engaging with industry on this issue.
“Small changes, like requiring a PCR test only if the individual gets a positive result from a lateral flow test, would make international travel more accessible and affordable whilst still providing an effective mitigation against re-importation of the virus.
“The government should also consider whether those who have been vaccinated can be exempt from testing requirements, should scientific evidence suggest reduced transmissibility.”
The UK government has now pledged to work to bring down the cost of Covid testing for leisure travellers ahead of the resumption of international travel this summer.
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, added: “The cost of testing could act as a significant barrier to the meaningful restart to aviation and should not be underestimated.
“With UK pre-departure and post-arrival tests costing around double the average in countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, UK travellers are penalised for wanting to travel from the UK.
“Without a cost-effective solution like this, a summer holiday will be out of reach for many and damage an already badly hit aviation and travel industry even further.”