The travel industry needs to see a reduction in the price of costly PCR Covid-19 tests to help encourage more bookings for summer 2021.
The price of these tests are currently more than £100 and are seen as a dis-incentive to families as they add significantly to the cost of a summer break.
Steve Endacott, chairman of Rock Insurance, told the Virtual ITT Conference Forum that the “fundamental problem is the cost” of PCR tests.
He added there should be moves to “drive down the costs” of Covid testing, which would remain crucial to restarting travel later this year despite the rollout of vaccines.
“Testing is required – it’s not testing that’s the problem, it’s the price of testing that needs to change,” said Endacott during the Rethinking Travel: Adjusting to a New World panel discussion chaired by TTG editor Sophie Griffiths.
Endacott also urged the industry “not to wait” for the government to take action, but instead work together to come up with its own solutions.
“We should be working as an industry to tell customers where the best place is to take a test,” he added.
Nick Hughes, sales director of tour operations at Dnata B2B Europe, Gold Medal and Travel 2, said digital health passports were also a solution to restart travel. But the issue would be whether different governments would accept the same digital passport.
“The vaccination record could be held on that digital passport but will it be recognised consistently enough to promote to our agents and customers?” he added.
Antonio Paradiso, managing director of MSC Cruises, said: “Testing is probably the most important action right now. We have carried 40,000 passengers in the last month. Vaccines are critical as they give that peace of mind.
“I’m sure vaccines will be part of the health and safety protocol. We believe in a multi-layered approach – it’s not just about tests or vaccines – to make sure our customers feel safe.”
Ilenia Cocco, trade manager of the Italian National Tourist Board UK and Ireland, said “safety and trust” would be the most important elements in the resumption of international travel.
She added that some ski resorts in Italy would be able to reopen on 15 February as long as they complied with “very specific guidelines”.
“We see some positiveness coming back through the spring,” said Cocco. “Summer is looking good. Italy was the first country to open borders to European tourism [last year] and we would like to do that as soon as it’s safe.”