GMB: Fletcher grills Shapps on ‘chaotic’ travel strategy
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International travel is in jeopardy and the cost of PCR tests may be to blame, said the WTTC. Damning reports on the cost of travel for Britons is nothing new, with experts everywhere rightfully pointing out that overseas travel may now be out of reach of many British families.
In the latest development, the WTTC has waded into the debate and is even calling for the Government to shoulder the cost.
Virginia Messina, WTTC acting chief executive, said: “For many people, the crippling added cost of the unnecessary PCR tests makes the difference between being able to travel or not.”
The WTTC believes the tests are not only unnecessary for fully-jabbed Britons, they are also halting the revival of international travel.
The price of PCR tests has made headlines over the weeks, and even the Government seems to be concerned.
READ MORE: Staycation: Holidaymaker warns against popular UK holiday spot
This weekend, health secretary Sajid Javid requested the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigate the excessive prices and “exploitative practices” of some PCR firms.
The UK has the costliest PCR tests in Europe, with an average cost of £75.
However, many travellers pay well above this average.
The reason for such a huge cost is partly because of the 20 percent VAT charge, but PCR test firms may also be taking advantage of the UK’s appetite for overseas travel.
Virginia Messina and the WTTC believe that PCR tests are partly to blame for the tourism industry’s struggles.
She said: “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.”
She continued: “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.”
Calls for an end to mandatory PCR testing are echoed by Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, who told GB News last week: “I think we should have an extended green list with rapid antigen testing, which you could back up with PCR in the rare case of a positive result.”
The Government, however, does not seem ready to completely abandon PCR tests for overseas travel.
Even though Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News viewers last week that PCR tests were not mandatory for Spain, they are still recommended.
He said: “If you have the choice [between multiple tests] the PCR ones are particularly helpful.”
The “usefulness” of PCR tests to the Government is exactly why the WTTC is calling for the Government to pay for them.
Virginia Messina said: “If the Government wants extra information for Genomic sequencing – they should pay for it.”
Putting the price of genomic sequencing on UK travellers won’t help the struggling travel industry, the WTTC believes.
She continued: “If they [the Government] don’t pay, then consumers will vote with their feet and avoid international travel altogether, further damaging the already struggling UK tourism sector.”
International travel has been slow to restart, with many Britons opting for staycations this summer.
Whether overseas travel picks up again before the end of the year remains to be seen.
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