Qualified local tourists can now avail of the free COVID-19 swab test as the Department of Tourism (DOT), through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), fully subsidized its charges and fees as part of efforts to jumpstart the country's tourism industry.
The TPB said it has partnered with the Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC) to subsidize the costs of the reverse transmission-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or swab tests for eligible domestic tourists starting Nov. 1.
Tourists with confirmed transportation and accommodation bookings with a DOT-accredited establishment would be qualified for the program and can avail of the 100 percent subsidy through this link www.tpb.gov.ph/rtpcrphtravel.
"For those who have already submitted their applications, there is no need to send new applications. The 100% subsidy will also be applicable to those who have already applied whose departure date is November 1 onwards," the Board said.
Travelers were encouraged to visit the Travel Philippines website at https://app.philippines.travel/ to check and verify requirements and protocols for tourists in various destinations.
The TPB also called on tourists to check first necessary details with the airline company and the accommodation establishments they will be staying at on their protocols for the resumption of leisure travel.
The TPB, the marketing arm of the DOT, signed an agreement with the PCMC and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) last year to provide a 50 percent subsidy for swab tests of approved tourists—cutting the fee for approved tourists to P750 and P900, respectively.
While a negative RT-PCR test result has been the main travel document being required by most local government units (LGUs) to tourists to allow entry, some destinations have already scrapped this requirement for fully vaccinated travelers.
The DOT earlier urged private health facilities to lower the cost of their swab tests to encourage more people to travel and hasten the recovery of the tourism industry from the pandemic
Currently, the costs of RT-PCR tests range from P1,500 to P5,000 in some high-end medical facilities, although the IATF has received reports of those charging as high as P10,000.
Last year, the government imposed a COVID testing price cap of P5,000 for private laboratories and P3,800 for public laboratories, and warned that those who will overcharge will be penalized.