The introduction of lateral flow tests would be a “game changer” and entice the family market to book for this summer, according to the trade.
Lateral flow tests are available to UK residents free of charge up to twice a week and are used for mass testing in schools and workplaces – but critics say they are less efficient than PCR tests, which are more expensive as they require lab analysis.
Agents on a Travel Weekly webcast said they remained hopeful that cheaper, rapid antigen tests would ultimately replace the more expensive PCR Covid tests currently required for travel back to the UK from green destinations from May 17 at the next government review.
Advantage Travel Partnership leisure director Kelly Cookes said: “Lateral flow [tests] would be what we want; even if we could get to an interim position whereby they allowed lateral flow, and there was a commitment from the customer that if they got a positive result, they would then do an PCR so that it could be studied.
“But I think lateral flow is going to be the game changer for the summer, particularly for the family market that have children over 11 because then you are looking at everybody in your party having to test.”
Rob Kenton, managing director, Triangle Travel, agreed: “It has to be a lateral flow antigen test. I think they’ve used the phrase “bring a bottle” as in bring a test on holiday; that should be the way forward for green [destinations].”
He added: “I think that’s where it will end up by the time we get to July and August this year.”
Blue Bay Travel chief executive, and Abta chairman, Alistair Rowland also said lateral flow tests for green destinations and PCR tests for amber destinations would “make more sense”.
He admitted the current requirement for PCR tests were a “frustration” but more of a barrier to short-haul than long-haul travel.
He said: “I think the industry should keep pressure on government to move to lateral flow.”
He added it would also be “helpful” if the government decided whether the VAT cost was to be taken off PCR test prices and if there was going to be a list of preferred PCR providers.
“If you look at the list, it’s miles long,” he said.