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airport testing

‘Majority of travellers’ support testing

New survey reveals support for testing regime over quarantine – and a willingness to pay for it.

Almost two-thirds of travellers support a test on arrival in the UK, a new poll has found.

Calls for an airport testing regime has grown in recent weeks amid the “quarantine roulette” caused by the frequent changes to the travel corridors list.

Heathrow has set up the first coronavirus testing centre for arrivals, but tests will cost passengers £150 a time. The airport’s CEO John Holland-Kaye told the government to “get a grip of our border policy” or risk mass redundancies in the travel industry.

Survey data compiled for Telegraph Travel by travel consultancy The PC Agency and independent market research company AudienceNet, polling 2,139 respondents, found that 62 per cent of the population supports a test on arrivals in the UK over a 14-day quarantine.

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According to the research, more than half would be willing to pay for a test. Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) would prefer a two-part test (with five days of self-quarantine in between) above a 14-day mandatory quarantine that is currently in force.

The survey will come as welcome news to the travel industry, which has pressed for a more considered border approached.

ABTA has revealed that 90,000 jobs have either been lost, or are at risk, in the travel industry and its supply chain since the global pandemic began.

If the government does not act with tailored support for travel, as it has for other sectors, 83 per cent of firms estimate that it will have a critical or serious impact on their business.

To Save Future Travel, ABTA’s plan is to:

  1. Regionalise quarantine: moving to a regionalised quarantine and Foreign Office travel advice policy will provide additional certainty for businesses and consumers
  2. Introduce testing: a testing regime will enable travel to resume to major global trading partners and mitigate the risk of infection from high risk countries
  3. Grant an APD holiday: to boost demand for travel, including Summer holidays in 2021
  4. Provide recovery grants and other business support measures: travel agents, the vast majority of whom are SMEs, receive the majority of their income through commission that is paid on the departure, so these businesses will need support to get them through to the next major travel period next Easter. The government can support these businesses by issuing another round of grants, based on those offered to retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses earlier in the crisis, and extending other business support measures into 2021/22
  5. Give ongoing salary support: with the furlough scheme drawing to a close at the end of October, the government should consider extending support for businesses that have not seen a significant recovery in revenues, as has happened elsewhere such as Australia. Targeting salary support where it is needed until March 2021 would reduce the cost to HM Treasury and could preserve tens of thousands of jobs in travel