Even though it is not proven 100% effective and more development is needed, airport testing may act as a regenerative tool for travel recovery.
Airports across Germany are some of the most recent to launch mandatory testing for inbound travelers – free of charge, for travelers from several high risk countries. Whilst this is also dependent on how the country has handled COVID-19 and the current situation, only 17% of German travelers are ‘extremely concerned’ about the outbreak of COVID-19 and only 9% see the COVID-19 situation getting ‘significantly worse’ (GlobalData’s latest recovery survey). In comparison, in the UK 37% of UK travelers remain ‘extremely concerned’ and 12% see circumstances getting significantly worse.
Whilst these results will be down to a combination of factors, airport testing may be one area that has helped ease consumer anxieties, causing the future of COVID-19 to be of lesser concern in Germany than in the UK.
Multiple destinations are testing as a means for ‘tourism to go on’
By the day, more airports are rolling out testing to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and ensure travel can go on. Many echo the voice of Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy the PC Agency who argued that ‘Blanket quarantine kills travel. It has to be a last resort’.
In France, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly Airport have made tests compulsory for inbound travelers from 16 high risk countries including the US. If a test is negative, quarantine will not be enforced. Arrivals into Iceland are given the option for a two-week quarantine or to have a test at the cost of US$70. Those not in quarantine will take a second test at a later date.
As Heathrow Airport reported an 88% plunge in July passenger numbers, the UK aviation industry is becoming more restless on the UK’s 14-day quarantine restrictions ‘strangling’ the economy. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO declared ‘government can save jobs by introducing testing to cut quarantine from higher risk countries, while keeping the public safe from a second wave of COVID-19’.
As the games of ‘quarantine roulette’ persist, what remains clear is that COVID-19 is still at large and consumer uncertainty is one of the biggest barriers to a travel resurgence. Enforcing strict quarantine measures when a tourist may or may not have the virus is another factor that will urge tourists to reconsider booking a holiday this year.