Holiday dreams shattered as 22 million Britons ‘priced out’ by expensive PCR tests

Boris Johnson says ‘we have a balanced policy’ on travel

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Holidays are a far reach for many UK citizens this summer, with a reported 22 million having been “priced out” of overseas travel due to the financial implications of testing requirements. Those who have been able to jet off abroad have been forced to shell out as much as £195 per person in order to obtain tests, according to online doctor service ZAVA.

Although children under the age of 10 are not required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test for travel back to England according to UK rules, only children aged four and under are exempt from day two and day eight testing.

Costs can mount even further when taking into consideration the testing requirements for entering certain destinations.

In most European destinations, including France, Spain and Greece, all children aged 12 years old and above must provide a negative COVID-19 test.

As a result, a family of four could be looking at an eye-watering additional cost of as much as £800 in testing fees alone.

According to the research obtained by ZAVA, these costs have set back British travellers an estimated £1.6 billion since March 2020.

For one in ten who did manage to secure a test, a positive COVID-19 test added further devastation.

Britons have also complained about the “stress” of the additional admin that comes with the Government’s current guidelines

For almost 40 percent of those surveyed, finding a reputable testing provider has caused confusion, amid an onslaught of testing scams.

In May of this year, Trading Standards was forced to issue a warning after receiving numerous reports of holidaymakers being tricked by bogus COVID-19 tests and fake certificates.

“A number of Trading Standards Authorities are currently investigating cases where travellers have unwittingly paid over £100 to fraudsters for a ‘quick turn-around COVID-19 test and received a fake ‘all-clear’ certificate in return,” Bruce Treloar, Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) lead officer for holiday and travel law said in a statement at the time.

However, even certified tests carry their own risks.

The high demand for tests coupled with a slow processing time means some results do not make it back in time to facilitate travel.

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“It is a really big deal for people who need to take a test to fly to go away,” pointed out Nicky Kelvin head of The Point Guys UK.

“If you’re going to Spain and you’re not vaccinated yet, you have to take a PCR test.

“If the test doesn’t show up and the results don’t show up before you fly, you have a big problem.”

Dr Babak Ashrafi from online doctor ZAVA said: “Travelling is one freedom that many of us Britons have sorely missed, be it to reunite with friends and family members, or just for a break.

“In fact, a third of us understandably believe that we deserve a foreign holiday after such a difficult year.

“But it’s important to take the care and time to fully understand the obligatory testing procedures we need to undertake, buy from reputable government-backed programmes, and be vigilant against COVID-19 related scams.

“This will ensure, we as a nation, can return to travel safely and minimise as much stress as possible.”

Chor, 27, a British holidaymaker from Bristol said a fast turnaround had been essential to facilitating their holiday to Spain.

“I’m a regular traveller and used to travel around the world every year, but even for me, travel has been difficult due to the amount of documents and tests required,” they said.

“The requirement of a PCR test within 48 hours to travel to Spain, could’ve made the day before travelling extremely stressful – luckily the COVID testing service from ZAVA was very good and I received the Fit to Fly certificate in the early hours of the day before, which made it a lot less stressful.

“The process of booking and travelling was all fairly easy and normal, for me it felt straightforward but the prep work, as well as the constant change in policies, certainly make it more challenging.”

According to Nicky Kelvin, the Government need to do more to provide a more “open and clear” look at the testing providers included on its “approved” list.

The travel expert is also calling for a push towards more affordable testing across the board.

“I think testing definitely needs to be made more affordable,” he said.

“ I think some providers are doing a much better job at providing affordable tests.

“What’s really difficult is that travellers have to book with a Government approved provider and the list is absolutely enormous.

“The Government could and should try to instil a policy that forces prices down but also provides more openness and clarity about who the good providers are, and start to weed out some of the ones that are worse because we have plenty of reports when people arrive late or don’t get the results quick enough.”

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