Antigen test as substitute for RT-PCR test backed

An official of the hospitality service industry is hoping that the government would fully allow the use of antigen test as a substitute requirement to enable domestic tourism in the country to resume.

The COVID-19 task force has given the green light for the use of antigen tests as a pre-boarding requirement for asymptomatic local air travelers.

Margarita Munsayac, chair of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA), said the decision is a positive development for the losing tourism sector as the alternative testing process would suffice for the need of the industry to recover rather than the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests which would require travelers to shell out more money for traveling.

“We hope that when domestic tourism gradually opens and ships will be allowed to leave and dock at different destinations, the antigen would suffice rather than the swab test because that makes the cost more miserable,” she said.

Although some hotels and accommodation establishments in Metro Manila are now offering a 2-in-1 accommodation and testing packages, the cost of traveling will now be relatively more expensive than the pre-pandemic phase.

Aside from presenting negative testing results, travelers are now also required to pre-book their accommodation arrangements as part of the health and safety requirements crafted by the Department of Tourism (DoT).

Local hotel executives expressed optimism that once community quarantine measures have eased further, travelers will start booking their properties again.

Even with the existing global health crisis, some said they are now preparing their establishments for the Christmas season, where group and family packages are in high demand.

“Most of the hotels, especially the resorts, are feeling positive that they will start receiving business this Christmas even in the National Capital Region. In fact, Dec. 31 is a very busy day as most of the hotels in the NCR are usually fully booked,” HSMA president Christine Ibaretta said.