• Quote: ‘Covid tests are known for being on the pricey side, if you book a 2021 flight-inclusive package with us before the end of September, we’ll get you your tests for free’

By Andrew Atkinson

Free Covid antigen and PCR tests are to be offered in a bid to boost tourism to Spain.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy the PC Agency, commented after travel company ‘On the Beach’ announced it would begin to offer free Covid tests, saying other companies will follow.

“It is very encouraging that On the Beach have taken this step. “I am aware of many luxury high-end operators who have been offering this, but this is the first mass-market tour operator to do this and it will give others the confidence to do the same. “This is definitely the start and we will undoubtedly see others doing the same,” said Charles.

The move has been made after a study revealed the price of tests was preventing people from travelling.

The firm has teamed up with government-backed testing provider Collinson to provide free Covid tests to those living in England and Northern Ireland for departures in 2021, to boost October half-term travel.

In May, ‘On the Beach’ announced that it would not sell summer holidays from June to August, due to the uncertainty surrounding travel.

Free Covid antigen and PCR tests in bid to boost Spain tourism

It has now re-opened package holiday bookings offering free Covid-19 tests for any new bookings to Spain and Greece, provided the booking is made before September 30 for a departure in 2021.

Customers’ tests will be ordered automatically on booking and delivered a minimum of 48 hours, prior to departure, with one antigen test to be taken on holiday prior to return to the UK and one PCR test to be carried out on, or before, day two after arrival in the UK.

A £1.5m fund dedicated to helping rebuild consumer confidence in travel has been made, used to fund the free tests, after research revealed almost a third of people said the main reason why they had not booked a holiday for 2021 was due to the costs of testing.

A spokesperson said: “These tests are known for being a bit on the pricey side, but if you book a 2021 flight-inclusive package holiday to Spain, the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Greece or Cyprus with us before the end of September, we’ll get you your tests for free.”

The move comes amid the government considering whether to scrap the current travel traffic light system. Green and amber categories could be removed – in favour of rules based on the Covid vaccination status of travellers.

The red category, which is for countries that the government says should not be visited, is expected to remain.