70% of travellers say cost of Covid tests is a barrier to travel

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says the cost of Covid-19 tests is now a serious barrier for many potential travellers.

A recent survey carried out by the organisation showed that while 86% of respondents are willing to be tested, 70% also say the cost of testing is a “significant barrier” to travel. Furthermore, 78% believe governments should bear the cost of mandatory testing for travellers.

Currently most countries require negative PCR tests as a condition of entry and with tests costing at least upwards of $100, the costs can rise quickly for travellers. IATA believes cheaper antigen tests could be a cost-effective solution and has called on governments to consider exempting vaccinated travellers from testing, in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

“IATA supports COVID-19 testing as a pathway to reopen borders to international travel,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh.

“But our support is not unconditional. In addition to being reliable, testing needs to be easily accessible, affordable, and appropriate to the risk level. Too many governments, however, are falling short on some or all of these.

IATA Director General Willie Walsh 

“The cost of testing varies widely between jurisdictions, with little relation to the actual cost of conducting the test. The UK is the poster child for governments failing to adequately manage testing. At best it is expensive, at worst extortionate. And in either case, it is a scandal that the government is charging VAT.”

In the UK, more than 1.37 million tests have been conducted on travellers arriving from Amber countries, with just a 1% rate of positive results, according to IATA. This is compared to three times that number of positive cases in the general population every day.

The WHO advises that antigen tests are a suitable alternative, with more expensive PCS tests only used in the case of a positive result. The organisation also says the cost of testing should be taken by governments to help restart the travel market.

Walsh added: “Our latest survey confirms that the high cost of testing will bear heavily on the shape of the travel recovery. It makes little sense for governments to take steps to reopen borders, if those steps make the cost of travel prohibitive to most people. We need a restart that is affordable for all.”

Originally Appeared Here