However, some holiday companies are welcoming the news, believing that it will increase holidaymakers’ confidence, something that is crucial for the successful restart of travel.
Rebecca Masri, CEO of Little Emperors, a luxury private members hotel club, says: “I am fully supportive of the idea of testing. At Little Emperors we are still receiving enquiries and bookings for 2021 with a big spike of family bookings for May half term, especially in France. I believe the introduction of compulsory testing upon return into Britain will instil confidence back in travellers and also help prevent the spread of Covid-19, which is of paramount importance.
She adds: “In order to make testing as effective as possible, they will need to be accessible and accurate. Our members are hungrier than ever to travel, and if they have confidence in accurate and accessible testing, we believe they will be more inclined to book now for that long-awaited holiday.”
As holidaymakers have found out this year, securing a Covid-19 test for travel is a costly endeavour. In the UK, private tests generally run from £80 up to £300 for same-day results. There is some hope that the cost could come down as testing infrastructure continues to grow and companies become more competitive with their pricing, but even still it could prove prohibitive to many families hoping to get away.
Holiday companies could potentially build the cost of a return test into holiday packages, but no operator has announced plans to do this yet. If travellers are left to secure their own tests in foreign countries, each destination’s testing regime might prove important when selecting where to go. In Spain, for example, the system is fairly similar to the UK. Free tests are prioritised for those with Covid symptoms and those who need one for travel purposes must pay for a private test. These generally cost between €100 and €240, depending on turnaround time. In some regions of Italy, caps have been placed on the cost of tests. In Lazio for example, private PCR tests cost no more than €60 and private rapid antigen tests, €22.
There is also the chance that destinations that rely on tourism could introduce free return tests in order to lure back holidaymakers this summer, though like so many elements of travel this year, this remains up in the air.
Another potential solution would be to test travellers on arrival in the UK, as has been introduced in the likes of Germany and Italy, though the infrastructure required plus the lack of confidence in the less accurate rapid lateral flow tests generally used in airport testing, may put a dent in any plans to do this.