On average, the PCR testing for UK departures costs £128 ($177), according to an analysis by ABTA and the Airport Operators Association, which is much higher than the European average. This high cost for testing, on top of inflated flight and holiday prices, could deter travellers from undertaking a short European break this summer.
High testing costs could make shorter trips unaffordable for travellers
Testing costs remain the same no matter how long a trip is. For a longer holiday that will naturally cost more, departure and arrival tests will only account for a small proportion of the total holiday cost. However, for a short weekend trip, tests have the potential to cost nearly as much as the holiday itself, which could make the trip unaffordable.
Post-Covid-19, travellers may decide to go on shorter holidays, including city breaks, to drive down costs. Demand for budget-friendly trips will be high in the short term and this is shown in a live Verdict community survey*, where 35% of respondents said they ‘cannot afford to go on holiday in the near future.’
City breaks are cherished by UK travellers. According to a GlobalData Survey in 2019**, 45% of UK respondents typically take city break holidays, the global average was 38%. The UK is well placed in Europe with great connections to a wide range of European cities. Acting as miniature holidays, city breaks are generally short, low-cost breaks that usually span over a weekend to minimise the number of annual leave days taken.
European city destinations that rely on weekend holidaymakers could see a decline in visitation whilst testing costs remain high. After over a year of Covid-19-related downturn in bookings, this further knock to city destinations could result in more losses for destinations and a bleak outlook for the tourism economy.
Regulation is required for pre-departure testing providers
Government regulation on the provision of tests is required. Testing companies know that as it is a necessity for travel, they can inflate prices to maximise profits. Charging extortionate prices for a government-required service is unfair to travellers and travel companies, as it eliminates the demand for their product, which is out of their control. A maximum price should be set to make it fair to those who are in a worse financial position due to Covid-19, and not just leave post-Covid-19 international travel for the wealthy.
A uniformed, lower price for pre-departure tests will encourage travellers to make international trips again. This lower price could be enough to encourage short European city breaks, which will allow popular city destinations for the UK market to recover at a quicker rate.
* Verdict community survey with 167 respondents, live since 19th May 2021.
**GlobalData survey Q3 2019, with 29,744 global respondents, 905 of which from the UK.