Cheaper PCR Covid tests are helping drive summer sales but clients are anxious about getting results in time to travel, say agents.
PCR tests are now available from £20, with some operators and agents swallowing the cost to clinch sales.
Paul Waters, retail director of 24-branch Premier Travel, said the price reductions had “made some people rethink”, adding: “It’s more affordable, less of a barrier and, since Saturday, has helped convert more bookings.”
But agents said customers still felt anxious about the uncertainty and hassle of the testing process, in particular getting results in time.
Advantage Travel Partnership leisure director Kelly Cookes told a Travel Weekly webcast the problem was tests not reaching laboratories in time to be tested. She said: “The issue is with efficiency.”
Paul Hardwick, head of commercial at Fred Olsen Travel, agreed: “The cost is not the most prohibitive thing now but the reliability of getting the results on time is a concern.”
Waters added: “Some clients still don’t want the hassle of having a test and the uncertainty this can bring.”
Some agents indicated they will accept some cost to help bookings.
Hardwick said: “We’d be willing to swallow the cost of the PCR test but so far customers have been accepting of the fee – they just want reassurance and advice on how and where to get them sorted.”
Richard Slater, owner of Henbury Travel, said: “I’m happy to absorb if they pay the [advertised] price.”
Tui is offering subsidised PCR Covid tests for green list destinations from £20 when bought with its packages.
Sunvil is providing two free PCR tests per person for stays of five nights or more in Portugal’s Alentejo region.
Both Jet2holidays and Kuoni are working on deals to provide affordable PCR tests.
But Jet2 chief executive Steve Heapy warned of the difficulty of obtaining guarantees that test results will be in time for clients’ holidays.
“It’s fine getting a test for £20 but if you don’t get it back in time, you can’t go on holiday,” he told a Travel Weekly webcast.