Scrapping PCR tests ‘will lead to October half-term foreign holiday surge’ as prices fall

Package holiday prices to Spain this September and October are as much as 38% cheaper than pre-pandemic levels, according to new data.

Holidays to the Istrian Riviera in Croatia have also fallen by 20% over this time in 2019, holiday price comparison site TravelSupermarket found.

Breaks to Majorca are down 15% on average; Crete by 14%; and Costa del Sol and the Algarve down 14%.

On the flip side, average prices to the likes of Malta and Dubai have risen by more than a quarter.

The “snakes and ladders” price changes can be attributed to travel restrictions.

Spokeswoman Emma Coulthurst said: “The cost and administration surrounding testing is still proving a major barrier to people travelling.

“With fewer people holidaying compared with pre-pandemic, for those who take the plunge, there are holidays available from the UK to the likes of the Spanish Costas in September and October from as little as under £150pp for seven nights.

“However, with a restricted number of destinations to choose from – with the likes of Cancun, the Dominican Republic and Turkey on the red list and the likes of the US currently out of bounds for Brits for holidays – prices have increased to Malta and to the UAE where good weather is pretty much guaranteed at this time of year.”

She added: “Many travel companies are trying to extend the season to make up for the lack of opportunity to travel at the beginning of the summer in May, June and early July.

“If the UK government announces, as anticipated, that PCR testing is being scrapped, we expect a surge in interest for late summer and October, including October half term from families, who made their plans in the UK this summer as the amber home quarantine wasn’t removed in time for them to opt for a foreign holiday.

“There are many people who haven’t holidayed abroad for more than a year and who will be keen to experience some foreign sun on their faces.”

ETOA chief executive Tom Jenkins said: “The PCR testing regime has proved impractical, expensive and a major contributing factor to huge delays at borders. It is also at times absurd.

“Anyone travelling out of the UK for less than 36 hours has to take their ‘pre arrival’ test in the UK, in order to prove that they are safe to return to the UK. So its removal for those double vaccinated is most welcome.

“But it is vital that this relaxation is extended to all visitors who are double vaccinated, not just Brits.

“The UK has effectively isolated itself from incoming visitors and it has slipped behind all other destinations in Europe as a result.

“Whilst the £30 billion incoming tourism industry has suffered an almost total loss over the last two years, we urgently need to repair our image as a welcoming and straightforward destination to visit. The longer the delay, the more extensive the damage to UK economy.”

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