UK travellers looking to get away to foreign shores in July and August have made an increased number of enquiries about holidays, according to data from UK aggregator TravelSupermarket. As reported by TTG, this recent surge in summer enquiries marks the first time in the last month that the summer season has been more popular than autumn, with most enquires before now being for travel in October.
TravelSupermarket’s Emma Coulthurst, the company’s consumer rights and travel advice expert, is reported as saying: “As the vaccination rollout and the latest lockdown easing continues to be heralded a success … there has been increased interest in summer 2021 overseas getaways. Brits are also starting to search for holidays to the US, no doubt buoyed by the country’s successful vaccine roll-out.”
The latest data from the company shows that long-haul destinations are increasing in package holiday search popularity, including to the Maldives, Las Vegas, New York and Orlando. In Europe, Tenerife is proving popular.
“We expect much more holiday interest once the much-anticipated green list is released,” added Coulthurst. “But there is still something else that also needs to be announced – reduced or free access to PCR Covid testing in the community.”
TravelSupermarket is one of many travel agents in the UK that have been putting out increasing calls for the cost of PCR tests to be brought down in order to help the tourism industry recover.
Currently, the costs of such tests – which are required of all travellers, regardless of destination, even once the UK’s green list is announced, vary from £45 to £200.
According to a recent news report in Travel Weekly, Abta, the UK travel association, says the cost of PCR tests are £128, on average, at the present time and double the price of such tests in some European countries. The association’s Chief Executive Mark Tanzer recently commented that ‘small changes’, such as only requiring a PCR test if a person produces a positive lateral flow test, would make international travel much more accessible.
Many travel agents in the country, including The Travel Network Group, The Advantage Travel Partnership and Hays Travel, have managed to make deals with providers of PCR tests, bringing costs for their customers down to around between £45 and £60 per test.
However, according to the Travel Weekly report, agents say the cost needs to reduce still further to encourage the average traveller to book. Polka Dot Travel Director Mark Johnson is reported as saying: “We need to get the price down to £25 per head maximum or get the government to help fund the costs.” This would better reflect the cost of PCR tests being paid by travellers in Europe.
Director of Premier Travel Paul Waters said, in the same report, that the cost of tests was stopping clients from booking. He is quoted as commenting: “We have some families concerned over the potential additional costs. Others already booked are prepared, but not necessarily happy, to pay.”
Although there seem to be no clear answers as to why PCR tests costs are so much higher in the UK, the recent move by supplier Randox to reduce the costs of its tests to £60 has been a welcome move by the travel industry. Let’s hope more suppliers follow suit soon.