Tui, the UK’s largest holiday company, is to offer coronavirus tests from just £20 to green list countries in a bid to “make travel a possibility”.
The holiday firm said its cheapest package will consist of a lateral flow test and PCR test – the minimum requirement for people returning to or visiting England from green list destinations under new Government rules.
A £50 package contains an additional PCR test, which will be needed for those travelling from a country on the amber list.
PCR tests alone typically cost £120 each, although several travel companies offer them for £60.
Tui said it is “subsidising the cost of testing to help customers travel again this summer”.
There have been fears that testing requirements would add hundreds of pounds to the overall cost of a summer holidays and put foreign trips out of financial reach for many.
The ‘traffic light’ list, based on an assessment of coronavirus risks, are expected to be published by the Department for Transport on Friday.
Countries will be divided up into green, amber and red, with different rules for each category.
Green: There is no need to self-isolate. Take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two of your arrival in the UK.
Amber: Self-isolate for 10 days, unless you receive a negative result from a test taken at least five days after arrival. Take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight of your arrival in the UK.
Red: Spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel. Take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight of your arrival in the UK.
International leisure travel is expected to be permitted to resume for people in England from May 17 according to Boris Johnson’s roadmap.
No dates have been set by the UK’s devolved administrations.
Tui has partnered with Norwich-based testing firm Chronomics to offer the packages.
Andrew Flintham, Tui’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “Our research has shown that customers are looking forward to their much-needed holiday overseas, but affordable and easy testing solutions was imperative to make this a reality.
“The four new exclusive testing packages have been developed with our customers in mind; they’re offered at greatly reduced prices, include certification to travel and will be a simple process from start to finish.”
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Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: “Tui launching an affordable testing package for holidays to green list countries is great news – but only for Tui customers.
“Other larger holiday companies that can afford to subsidise test costs may follow suit, but medium and small travel firms may struggle to compete, and holidaymakers could face reduced choice as a result.
“People should not have to shop around for mandatory tests if they want to travel, or have their hand forced as to who they book with based on limited provision of cheap tests.
“The Government must work to reduce the cost of testing across the board, rather than have consumers rely on a system that is currently fragmented and flawed.”