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The Department of Tourism (DOT) has resumed subsidizing 50 percent of the cost of RT-PCR testing for qualified domestic tourists through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, their marketing and promotions arm.
The resumption of the subsidy follows the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow leisure travel for persons of all ages between the NCR Plus bubble and areas under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).
The TPB currently has an agreement with two government hospitals and their accredited COVID-19 laboratories for the subsidized RT-PCR testing program, namely the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) in Manila and the Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC) in Quezon City.
The regular price of the RT-PCR Test in UP-PGH is P1,800. Those approved for the 50 percent subsidy will only need to pay P900 to avail of the swab test requirement.
Helping the tourism industry bounce back
In a statement, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that the move is expected to further help bring the tourism industry back to its feet.
"The Philippine tourism industry has been adversely affected by the pandemic. The subsidy aims to encourage domestic travel by aiding the tourists in fulfilling the RT-PCR test requirement, and to enable them to visit their destination of choice at a lesser cost,” said Puyat.
She stressed that the increased number of travelers could help boost consumer spending, which could speed up economic recovery.
“We at the DOT are doing whatever we can to help the industry and its stakeholders recoup their losses and ensure security and sustainability amid this pandemic," she added.
According to TBP, the subsidy program costs P35.17 million for the whole year.
The initial agreement of the TPB with the UP-PGH and PCMC ran from January to June 2021, with the UP-PGH and PCMC receiving P9.99 million and P8.70 million, respectively, benefiting 22,711 domestic travelers.
The processing and endorsement of applications for RT-PCR test subsidy to PCMC and UP-PGH continued from June 16 to 30, 2021.
DOT and TPB recently renewed its partnership with PCMC for the second phase implementation of the financial subsidy program.
TPB Chief Operating Officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones and PCMC Executive Director Julius A. Lecciones signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in a virtual ceremony to roll out the RT-PCR subsidy from July to December 2021 to aid 13,333 qualified domestic tourists.
The Tourism Secretary said that DOT and TPB will continue to extend efforts as part of its strategic plans to market and promote the country as a safe tourism destination.
“This program is just one of the strategic steps that DOT and TPB are working on as we gear toward recovery and pave the way to a safe and gradual reopening of tourism destinations. We are pushing for these initiatives to help our economy recover and we are optimistic that more industry stakeholders, local government units and agencies will work hand-in-hand with us on this endeavor,” said Puyat.
To avail of PCMC’s 50 percent testing cost subsidy, travelers must first register online to pre-schedule their RT-PCR test at http://www.tpb.gov.ph/rtpcrphtravel/.
Domestic tourists who can avail of the subsidy must submit a valid government-issued identification card, proof of hotel booking in a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment, and proof of mode of travel such as airline or bus ticket. PCMC will accept RT-PCR test applications on a first-come, first-served basis.
Potential travelers are advised to check www.philippines.travel/safetrip as well as airlines and hotels/resorts where they plan to stay to verify additional requirements and protocols.
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