The Department of Tourism (DOT) announced that it is bringing back its 50 percent subsidy on the cost of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for qualified local tourists.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the move is expected to further help bring the tourism industry back on its feet.
“The Philippine tourism industry has been adversely affected by the [COVID-19] 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,” Puyat said.
The development came after the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow leisure travel for persons of all ages within the National Capital Region (NCR)-plus bubble and areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
Puyat stressed that the increased number of travelers could help boost consumer spending, which in turn could hasten 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.
The subsidy program will be implemented through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB)–the department’s marketing and promotions arm.
The TPB has an agreement with two government hospitals and their accredited coronavirus disease (COVID-19) laboratories for the subsidized RT-PCR testing. These are the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) in Manila and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) in Quezon City.
Domestic tourists with confirmed round trip transportation tickets and a booking confirmation with a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment qualify for the subsidy.
The subsidy program has a P35.17-million budget for the whole year.
The current agreement of the TPB with the UP-PGH and PCMC runs from January to June 2021, with the hospitals receiving P9.99 million and P8.70 million, respectively. It is seen to benefit 22,711 domestic travelers.
Puyat said the TPB is set to ink a new memorandum of agreement with the PCMC to extend the RT-PCR subsidy program from July 1 to December 31, 2021, in order to cover an additional 13,333 local tourists.
To apply for the 50 percent RT-PCR test subsidy, tourists may visit https://www.tpb.gov.ph/rtpcrphtravel/.