We Need A Solution To The Cost Of A PCR Test

Today is May the 1st, which in the world of Tourism is normally the start of the summer season. But having endured just over a year with the pandemic and for most businesses here, 18 months of inactivity, we are still none the wiser on when the island will get back to business. 

We are in the hands of our Government here and in the UK. Once they give the green light which is key here then it’s up to our two main source markets to decide whether we’ll have a summer season of any significance. 

The passenger numbers for Mallorca in 2019 were, 11,869,977. 

4,182,626 were from Germany, 2,425,356 were from the UK and 1,597915 from Spain. 

Germany are going back into another lockdown until June after their rates have risen. Around 21% of their population have received their first dose of the vaccine with around 6% having received the second. Compare that to the Uk whose rates are tumbling and their vaccination rate is around 50% who’ve received their first dose and around 19% who’ve received their second dose. Without doubt the vaccine is having an enormous effect on the infection rates. So with Germany struggling we look to the UK who still say international travel will be allowed from May 17th but at what extra cost? 

We know that their will be a traffic light system of Red, Amber and Green countries but we are yet to find out exactly what that entails. The good news is that the Government we hear is planning to rate the Balearic Islands separately from the mainland which didn’t happen last year. They will look at vaccination numbers and infection rates. Variants and the ability of the country to identify variants will also be considered. Our infection rates are low and the so called “Easter spike” hasn’t materialised but our vaccination rates are low too which is a worry. 19% of the Balearic population have received one dose, while nearly 7% have received two. We rank 17th and last in all of the autonomous regions of Spain, with only the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla below us. As an island group whose main industry is Tourism, 44% of our GDP and 89% if you take in all third party suppliers, It’s an absolute disgrace in my opinion. We’ve been left out to dry by the mainland Government and where’s the push from our island Government? The British Ambassador Hugh Elliott who was on a visit to the islands this week said “although the quality of the data in the Balearics are an important factor to be taken into account, there are many parameters”. “No decisions have been made yet about who will be in which category.”

If PCR tests are obligatory then prices will have to come down. I organised a test for a Spanish friend of mine whose daughter is in the Uk studying. One particular chemist who I contacted were charging, Monday to Thursday £120 and results in 48 hours and Friday or Sunday £150 and results in 48 hours. Also Monday to Thursday and next day results £225! That’s for one test by the way, I’ve known people to have a week in Mallorca on that price. Who in their right mind is going to pay those prices and how are these people allowed to get away with charging them? They’re making huge profits on the back of a pandemic, that’s wrong in my opinion. They are overseen by the Care Quality Commission, who are the Independent regulator of health and social care in England. Whilst they may not be looking at pricing surely the lack of care for ripping people off should come into it? 

Now having looked around I’ve discovered a couple of companies that are charging far less for International travellers. 

Randox, the UK’s largest Covid-19 PCR testing provider, announced their support for UK holidaymakers seeking trips overseas by reducing the cost of PCR tests to support travel to £60 per test. 

Customers who book through The Travel Network Group(TTNG) travel agents will be able to secure a test with Eurofins Covid Testing Services Ltd (ECTS) for £44.90.

In both circumstances that will add another £180-£240.00 each way for a family of four. Added to the cost of a family holiday I still think that is too expensive. 

The other worry is being able to cope with the sheer number of tests based on arrivals and departures here on the island. We’re already hearing of the UK struggling to get results to people on time. Do we have enough testing centres and laboratories to be able to cope? I’m not so sure and the last thing we want is negative headlines. 

I’m surprised that no airline,Tour Operator, Hotel Chain or Hotelier has decided to include them in the cost of a flight or holiday yet. 

Maybe a destination like the Balearics should consider paying it maybe out of the Tourist Tax, which has been mentioned before. Surely the cost of offering that would also be offset by the employment it creates and the money it will bring to the islands. I can’t believe that offering free PCR tests is anywhere near the cost of the ERTE scheme currently running. 

The ideal would be of course that they’re not needed all together but I’m not sure that will be the case at the beginning, maybe later on. 

More importantly let’s remember Mallorca is one of the best holiday destinations in the World. We’re an island with turquoise blue waters, secret coves, soft golden sands, lush green foliage, rugged mountains, picturesque villages, amazing cuisine, emerging wines, the best excursions, bustling nightlife and a vibrant capital city. We’re also an island in the Med only a couple of hours flight from most European cities.

It should be number one on your list to visit after May 17th! 

Take care everyone and enjoy your Weekend! 

Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday 07.30-11.00am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at www.radioonemallorca.com on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance! 

Follow him on Twitter @DadTaxi1 & Instagram @dad.taxi or feel free to email him at rprior@globobalear.com 

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