The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) is arguing that the UK government should pay for expensive PCR tests, which are “crippling the travel and tourism sector”, for people who are double jabbed.

Ever vocal, the WTTC is challenging the government about why consumers should foot the bill for Covid-19 “research”. It says the government should bear the cost of hugely expensive and unnecessary PCR tests for fully jabbed citizens.

The WTTC points out that genomic sequencing data from PCR tests is harvested by the government to rapidly identify variants of concern, understand transmission and slow the spread, however, consumers shouldn’t have to pay for this.

If the government offer free PCR tests to everyone who has been double jabbed (which now about 75 per cent of the UK population), this would “remove the huge financial burden, which is depressing demand for travel, effectively halting the revival of international travel”.

The WTTC adds that if the government won’t cover the cost of PCR tests, it should at the very least replace the need for day two PCR tests from green and amber countries with affordable and effective antigen tests, for fully vaccinated travellers. As in other countries, only those testing positive should need to take a PCR test.

Virginia Messina, WTTC senior vice-president and acting CEO, says: “For many people – especially families and small businesses on a budget – the crippling added cost of the unnecessary PCR tests makes the difference between being able to travel or not.

“It’s clear that many British adults simply can’t afford to travel overseas at all if they have to pay the excessive cost of PCR tests.

“More affordable antigen tests, with PCR tests for those who do test positive, will help keep travellers safe and make taking a trip overseas within the budget of most people.

“But if the government wants extra information for genomic sequencing – they should pay for it. If they don’t pay, then consumers will vote with their feet and avoid international travel altogether, further damaging the already struggling UK Travel & Tourism sector.

“At the very least, we support the investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to look into the excessive pricing of PCR tests which is deterring the revival of international travel.

“Unless the government sees sense and accepts the financial responsibility for PCR tests for the fully vaccinated, WTTC fears the UK Travel & Tourism sector is going to continue to buckle while demand for travel remains depressed.”

The UK health secretary Sajid Javid recently requested the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate “excessive” pricing and “exploitative practices” among PCR Covid test firms.

This follows widespread reports of vast differences paid by travellers for PCR tests by different companies.

At the moment, the cost of PCR tests varies enormously between providers, with the average costing around £75. However, some firms are offering express PCR test results within 90 minutes at a cost of up to £400.

This makes UK PCR tests among the most expensive in Europe – partly due to the 20 per cent VAT charge applied on top.

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