In a bid to expand access to affordable real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests for would-be travelers, the Department of Tourism (DOT), through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines, has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) on Monday for another partnership subsidy to benefit around 11,600 domestic tourists.
The children’s hospital is the DOT’s government partner to spur the recovery of the hardest hit sector affected by the ongoing global health crisis. It provided DOT with a special rate of P1,500 RT-PCR testing fee for leisure travel purposes, although qualified tourists can avail of the subsidized RT-PCR testing fee for P750.
The program will run until June 2021and will also cover foreign residents in the Philippines.
“In this terrible time, I believe that we need to take care of each other more than ever, paying special attention to and in solidarity with the disadvantaged citizens and the ordinary workers. Now that the tourism industry needs help to recover from the brunt of the pandemic, the PCMC is ready to work with you to get through this challenging time,” PCMC Executive Director Dr. Julius A. Lecciones said in a message.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the P8.7 million financial subsidy program with the PCMC is poised to encourage the traveling public to rediscover places that have been declared open and safe by the Inter-Agency Task Force and local government units. Among these destinations are Manila, Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, Bohol, Baguio, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and Siargao Island.
“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.
Last December 15, DOT and TPB first signed a MOA with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) to subsidize 50 percent of the hospital’s RT-PCR testing cost of P1,800 for about 11,000 qualified domestic tourists.
Puyat said the initiative was positively received by the public, and as of Dec. 26, the TPB processed 1,569 applications, 965 of which have been approved, while 150 are undergoing validation. The rest did not meet eligibility requirements.