Hugely expensive and unnecessary

By | Category: Travel rumblings

With these words, last Tuesday, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) called on the British government to pay for PCR tests for fully vaccinated travellers.

Expensive yes, even hugely expensive as many people in the UK have been saying for months. Now that the CMA is looking at the pricing, downward pressure on charges may occur.

Because VAT is charged on the tests, that makes them more expensive but would any government having faced the colossal financial bills caused by the pandemic remove or reduce revenue flowing back into its coffers? It can call for a VAT reduction but surely it doesn’t believe it to be likely.

My objection to the WTTC release is that it claims PCR testing is “unnecessary.” Nowhere in the release does it explain why it thinks PCR tests are unnecessary saying “only those testing positive should need to take a PCR test.”

And how, pray, are you going to determine who is positive without using a PCR test? The WTTC might suggest using an antigen test (which it would like to see used instead of PCR tests in many cases) but the reliability of antigen tests is lower; cases can be missed.

Health experts prefer PCR tests but the WTTC has specialised in ploughing a different furrow during the pandemic.

Using such words as “unnrecessar” without explanation is sloppiness one shouldn’t expect for world body.

There were times when the WTTC didn’t want borders closed. It wanted travel to be open for economic reasons. And when travel became largely closed it wanted re-opening as soon as possible. It didn’t want to wait for herd immunity or for high vaccination rates, it wanted tourism to restart. I believe it also didn’t, in the early days, accept that international travel had contributed to a spread of cases.

No one doubts that travel and tourism is important to the world economy nor that it brings tangible and intangible benefits. But it doesn’t do its cause of bringing travel back by seemingly being majorly concerned about the impact of the pandemic on industry rather than the impact on the general populace by allowing unfettered travel.

Last year I accused the WTTC of “making airey-fairy statements” when it called for travel to re-open. Now it is doing it again.

In January, the WTTC called for there to be non-discrimination between the unvaccinated and the vaccinated when it was plain that the way to re-start tourism was to take those who were double vaccinated first and then those that were tested or who could prove they had recovered. The cruise industry took this view and now governments in Italy and France, some state governments in the USA are copying.

If I didn’t know I would suggest the WTTC is living in another world. Certainly during the pandemic, it hasn’t been their finest hour.

(I would have used the WTTC logo to illustrate this story but its website says it can’t be used if it “puts the brand in a negative context,” and I may have done just that)

WTTC -Not its finest hour? Cartoon – © Dan Sperrin
If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , ,