Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT), Tourism Promotion Board (TBP), and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) on Monday inked a deal to subsidize the RT-PCR (Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test of 11,600 tourists.
Based on the memorandum of agreement, DOT will subsidize 50 percent of the special rate worth P1,500 for the COVID-19 swab test administered by the PCMC. This means that qualified tourists who will avail of the subsidy will only pay P750 (in cash) per person to PCMC.
The regular price of an RT-PCR test with PCMC is P3,577 for walk-in clients. The subsidy and partnership deal is valid until June 2021.
“Working hand-in-hand not just with tourism industry stakeholders and local governments, but also with government health facilities such as PCMC ensures that the success of health and safety protocols will strengthen our collective efforts to gradually and safely sustain domestic tourism,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said.
“We were blessed that we were able to establish the PCMC COVID-19 testing laboratory when the country is lacking testing laboratories. We [are] focused on our desire for an affordable test accessible not just to our patients but to private and public organizations and individuals, particularly the sectors that will potentially jumpstart the economy,” PCMC Executive Director Julius Lecciones added.
FILE PHOTO: A vendor at Pritil Public Market gets a free swab test amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tondo, Manila, Philippines, October 8, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
However, DOT clarified that screening of applications for children will still be based on the age restrictions imposed by local government units due to the ongoing pandemic.
“Based on IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) Resolution No. 84 Series 2020 dated November 19, 2020, Section B No. 8, age restrictions for travellers for tourism purposes may be relaxed upon the determination of local government units, and subject to prior consultation with the DOT, DOH (Department of Health), and DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government), and the development of specific guidelines for this purpose,” DOT stated.
“Thus, we shall process and evaluate applications subject to the submission of the complete documents. Valid IDs for children are any of the following: passport, school ID, and birth certificate,” it added.
The testing facility of PCMC, located along Quezon Avenue corner Agham Road in Quezon City is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (including holidays).
“I am hopeful that this initiative with PCMC will help transcend the prohibitive barrier of testing requirements, thereby restoring confidence to travel again,” said Puyat.
“After such a tough year, we look forward to better days when we can revisit friends and family, have a respite in the places which we consider as our sanctuaries, and rediscover the rich heritage of our diverse cultures across the country,” she added.
Puyat explained that the financial subsidy program is aimed at further encouraging tourists to visit places in the Philippines which have been declared open and safe by the Inter-Agency Task Force Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID)
and local government units.
DOT said among these reopened tourist spots are Manila, Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, Bohol, Baguio and Ilocos Norte.
“The rolling out of the subsidized RT-PCR tests for qualified domestic tourists is just one of the tourism promotions’ recovery strategies as part of our Safe Bangon Turismo campaign to support the Philippine tourism industry which has been adversely affected by the ongoing pandemic,” Puyat said.
On December 15, DOT and the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) signed a separate agreement to subsidize 50 percent
of the P1,800 RT-PCR testing at UP-PGH.
Puyat explained that as of December 26, DOT has received 1,500 applications for the subsidy under the DOT and UP-PGH agreement.
A total of 965 applications were approved, 150 are ongoing validation, and the remaining applications were not able to meet the eligibility requirements.
To avail of the 50 percent testing cost subsidy, tourists must register at the TBP website five days before their departure date. Travelers should also submit the following requirements:
– Copy of two (2) valid government-issued IDs
– Copy of confirmed hotel booking
– Copy of roundtrip transportation tickets, if applicable (airline/bus/ferry tickets)
“Filipinos and foreigners residing in the Philippines can avail of the 50% subsidy for the RT-PCR Test with leisure tourism as the purpose of domestic travel, and with confirmed transportation and accommodation bookings. Chosen travel destinations should only be those declared open to leisure tourists,” DOT clarified.
“Foreigners living in the Philippines who are residents, with work, long term, student, or other valid visas may avail of the subsidy as long as the purpose of domestic travel is for leisure tourism,” DOT added.
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