The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that the recovery of international tourism will be adversely affected by high Covid-19 PCR testing costs.
IATA have urged governments around the world to ensure that testing costs are affordable as well as timely, widely available and effective.
Undertaking research on costs around the world, IATA found that only France complied with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for the state to bear the cost of testing for travelers.
In the 16 countries surveyed, minimum testing costs ranged from US$0 in France to US$278 (£200) in Japan.
According to IATA, prior to the pandemic, the average one-way airline ticket, including taxes and charges, cost US$200 (£144). A US$90 (£65) PCR test raises the cost by 45% to us$290 (£209). Many countries require another test on arrival which could make the one-way cost US$380 (£274). Return trips would double the PCR test cost and if you are travelling as a family the costs will quickly become unbearable.
“As travel restrictions are lifted in domestic markets, we are seeing strong demand. The same can be expected in international markets. But that could be perilously compromised by testing costs—particularly PCR testing. Raising the cost of any product will significantly stifle demand. The impact will be greatest for short-haul trips (up to 1,100 km), with average fares of $105, the tests will cost more than the flight. That’s not what you want to propose to travelers as we emerge from this crisis. Testing costs must be better managed. That’s critical if governments want to save tourism and transport jobs; avoid limiting travel freedoms to the wealthy.”Willie Walsh, Director General IATA
World Health Organisation Calls For Free Testing
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Health Regulations stipulate that states should not charge for testing or vaccinations required for travel, or for the issuance of certificates.
The WHO COVID Emergency Committee recently reiterated this position, calling on governments to reduce the financial burden on international travelers of complying with testing requirements and any other public health measures implemented by countries.
“Testing costs should not stand between people and their freedom to travel. The best solution is for the costs to be borne by governments. It’s their responsibility under WHO guidelines. We must not let the cost of testing—particularly PCR testing—limit the freedom to travel to the rich or those able to be vaccinated. A successful restart of travel means so much to people—from personal job security to business opportunities and the need to see family and friends. Governments must act quickly to ensure that testing costs don’t stall a travel recovery.”Willie Walsh, Director General IATA
Although France currently demonstrates best practice, among those countries surveyed, the European Parliament is generally moving in the same direction. Last week, it called for testing to be universal, accessible, timely and free-of-charge across the EC.
“France and the European Parliament are helping to lead the way. We are in a health and economic emergency. Testing is part of the road to recovery. So it’s a government responsibility to ensure that testing is accessible to all. If governments are not going to make testing free, at least they must ensure that there is no profiteering by testing companies at the expense of people who just want to get back to some form of normality in their life and travel habits. And that scrutiny should include governments themselves who, under no circumstances, should charge a tax for this critical service.”
“How is it thatthe minimum cost of a PCR test can be as low as $77 in Australia but $278 in Japan, for example?”Willie Walsh, Director General IATA
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