The high cost of PCR tests will continue to negatively impact international travel recovery, according to research by analytics company GlobalData
Vaccination rollouts have been pinpointed as a catalyst for the recovery of travel, but the pricing of PCR tests is also a critical factor and current high prices risk holding back recovery in the long-term, said Global Data.
Prices for Covid-19 PCR tests vary but can dramatically increase the cost of an international trip. Research by UK consumer group Which? in April 2021 found that the average price of one PCR test was £120 in the UK. Having to take two tests during a trip adds significant cost and this can serve as a deterrent to travelling. This calls for yet more sector collaboration to reduce costs and make it more feasible for a travel restart.
Indeed, Covid-19 has tightened budget constraints for many. GlobalData’s Q1 2021 consumer survey found that 50 per cent of global respondents ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat’ agreed they have reduced household budgets in the last year. Additionally, 54 per cent are also now following a strict weekly/monthly budget, highlighting that the added expenditure of an international getaway could be problematic.
Multiple tests are key in planning international travel
Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData based in the UK, commented: “A vaccination or negative Covid-19 tests prior to departure and/or on arrival and upon landing are currently needed to legally travel to and from many countries. It will take a considerable amount of time for a whole population to be vaccinated and therefore multiple tests are likely to be key in planning an international trip for some time. The costs associated with this will reduce the ability for many individuals to be able to travel any time soon.
“Family outbound travel is what could really be set back here. Even if some older members of the family are vaccinated and do not have to pay for Covid-19 tests, those aged under 18 are still likely to have to pay for a test – not just one, but multiple. This could fall onto the parents, adding further costs, which will undoubtedly not be welcomed.”
Making travel as ‘easy and affordable’ as possible
TUI is the first tour operator to make a bold move on reducing the costs of testing for international travel. The operator recently announced that it planned to offer Covid-19 PCR tests for £20 for UK tourists travelling to countries on the government’s ‘green list’. In partnership with government authorised test provider Chronomics, management declared plans to make travel this summer as ‘easy and affordable’ as possible.
Bonhill-Smith added: “This is a well-considered strategic move from the tour group, demonstrating that the cost of testing for Covid-19 can be considerably cut if partnerships are formed. More operators and airlines should be collaborating with authorised test providers to make travel more accessible and generally more affordable in an ongoing uncertain situation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.”