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DOT to subsidize COVID tests of Boracay tourists

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Dec 03, 2020 1:45 am

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat announced the department’s partnership with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) to partly subsidize the cost of RT-PCR testing for Boracay-bound tourists.

The UP-PGH kit costs P1,800 or less than half of what most testing laboratory centers are charging. The subsidy will come from the Tourism Promotion Board (TPB), DOT’s marketing arm.

The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) triumvirate—chaired by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, with Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año and DOT Secretary Puyat serving as vice-chairs—made the announcement from Boracay today, Dec. 3.

Boracay-bound tourists can take the mandatory RT-PCR test for P1,800 at UP-PGH.

The task force also revealed the following measures:

1. The DOT will lead the implementation of low-cost or free Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) for Boracay-bound non-Aklanon tourists in partnership with the UP-PGH;

2. The DOT will facilitate the training of personnel and representatives of the provincial government of Aklan and municipal government of Malay on case investigation, contact-tracing, referral, and other COVID-19 related operations under the supervision of Baguio City Mayor and Contact-Tracing Czar Benjamin B. Magalong;

3. The DOT will secure at least 1,500 RT-PCR test kits for the implementation of expanded testing in Boracay;

4. Subject to the BIATF’s favorable evaluation of the island’s contact-tracing capability and implementation of health and safety protocols, LGU Aklan may transition to the use of Rapid Antigen Tests (Ag-RDTs) for the entry of non-Aklanon tourists into Boracay.

Puyat said, “Our local leadership is key in bringing forward our improved image.  Furthermore, it is our wish to make more affordable RT-PCR tests to encourage more visits.”

Also at the meeting were Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG) general manager Natividad Bernardino, Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores, Malay Acting Mayor Frolibar Bautista, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, and other Boracay stakeholders.

Puyat added, “Let's continue to push for 100 percent compliance with health guidelines and environmental rules and fulfill our mandate to fully restore Boracay as a source of pride, a national asset that contributes significantly to the socio-economic growth of this country."

As of Nov. 30, 258 AEs have been issued Certificates of Authority to Operate (CAOs), with a combined capacity of 5,846 rooms, as well as accredited 24 restaurants, 14 tourist/specialty shops, 12 travel and tours agencies, seven tourism recreational facilities/centers, 12 community guides, and six regional guides.

The DOT is working with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the LGU to monitor and remind tourists to observe proper health and hygiene protocols.