The high cost of PCR tests is and will continue to negatively impact international travel recovery, when tourism is most needed, especially in Thailand. On top of uncertainty over waves linked to the delta variant and now the emergence of the omicron variant, there’s the matter of the coronavirus tests needed to travel.
Per person, they can cost hundreds of dollars and exorbitantly increase the cost of an international trip, depending on the place of departure, the destination, the type of test and the company providing them. While many countries offer free or subsidized coronavirus testing, when it comes to tests to meet travel requirements and swift delivery test results, governments often rely on or require private companies to administer them, rather than strained and slow public health systems.
The cost of doing business in a volatile industry, coupled with limited government oversight of prices and services, is probably yielding some startling revenues, in USD trillions, as many private companies are taking advantage of a COVID windfall, making huge profits on testing, resulting in the less wealthy forced to forgo vacations abroad as travel seems to become something only the rich can afford.
Maybe, on some level, some may argue that charging for COVID testing for travel is not unreasonable, but for a family of five, they will have to pay the absurd price between one and two thousand dollars to take two tests during a trip, which adds a significant cost to their holidays, especially when COVID-19 has tightened budget constraints for many around the world.
On one hand governments are crying for tourism to return but on the other hand putting costly restrictions in place and allowing private companies to apply outrageous prices. So, rather than simply being a matter of choice, it becomes an additional financial burden and the excessive COVID travel costs symbolize escalating inequalities in the wake of the pandemic.
It never ceases to amaze me, how much the medical sector is blatantly profiteering of this pandemic, leaving us, the consumers, with no choice but to swallow this sour medication. It is clear that protecting the public is and will always be a government’s top priority, and the robust border and testing regime implemented will help to minimize the risk of new variants entering the country, but at what cost?
Shouldn’t the price of PCR testing be regulated by these same governments in the name of fairness? Whilst new rules are being introduced in many countries around the world, allowing lighter testing requirements to give a boost to a struggling travel and hospitality industry and other industries linked to tourism, Thailand seems to be left in the back seat wondering how to move forward.
According to several online media, the variability of pricing is wide enough that the International Air Transport Association, in July, asked governments to act on price-gouging for Covid-19 tests, citing a proprietary survey in which 70% of respondents called the cost of testing “a significant barrier to travel.” But of course, it is!
There is no need to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out! … Until testing costs and availability are brought in line and at an affordable level, it looks like 2022 may prove to be yet again, another difficult year for the travel and tourism industry in Thailand. And, for families who have had to forgo vacations this year due to unachievable additional costs, the costs are a stark example of the new societal inequalities created by the policy response to the pandemic. It is a sad reality and a wake-up call! HAPPY NEW YEAR.