PCR tests should be free for travellers

by Deborah Cater
PCR tests shuld be free says IATA
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MADRID – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants governments to bear the cost of PCR tests for travellers. This should prevent the prices of the tests from jeopardising the tourism recovery.

The IATA believes governments should take all necessary measures to prevent travel from becoming elitist again. For many people, especially families, the high cost of the tests could make travel unattainable. Diagnostic tests must be “affordable, current, available and effective”. In addition, IATA proposes following the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation that governments bear this expenditure.

Large differences in test prices

A study conducted by IATA on the costs of PCRs in 16 countries showed large differences in the prices of the tests, between markets and even within the same country. Of the sample examined, only France complies with the WHO recommendation to bear the cost of diagnostic tests for travellers.

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Travelling with tests is on average 45% more expensive

The average minimum price of a PCR in the other 15 countries studied by IATA was $90 (about €75). Taking this figure into account, and the average price of airline tickets of $200 (c. €166), performing the PCR test would increase travel costs to $290 (€241). That’s an increase of 45%.

Financial impact greater on families

According to IATA, the financial impact of Covid tests on travel is greater for families. The total price of a family holiday would be $3,040 (over €2,530), of which $1,440 (€ 1,200) would be spent on PCR tests. These calculations assume two tests are required for each direction (round trip), as some destinations require.

“Preventing travel from becoming an exclusive product for the rich”

“With travel restrictions being lifted in the domestic markets, we are seeing a strong increase in demand. The same can be expected in international markets. But that increase could be significantly affected by the additional cost of tests, especially PCRs,” said Willie Walsh, CEO of IATA. He added that if governments really want to “save jobs in tourism and air transport,” they must prevent travel from becoming an exclusive commodity for the wealthy.

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