DOT’s RT-PCR subsidy expands to Central Luzon as PH opens doors to foreign tourists

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
DOTâs RT-PCR subsidy expands to Central Luzon as PH opens doors to foreign tourists
A health worker at Rosario Maclang Bautista General Hospital prepares to take a swab of a resident of Batasan Hills in Quezon City on July 13, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism, through its attached marketing and promotions agency, Tourism Promotions Board recently expanded its Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction subsidy program.

Last February 23, TPB signed a memorandum of agreement with the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital Center (JBLGHC) for the RT-PCR Subsidy Program in Central Luzon.

In view of this, qualified foreign and local travelers including returning Filipinos or balikbayans who are flying in and out of Clark International Airport can now avail of the subsidized RT-PCR.

This move is part of the DOT and TPB’s efforts to promote domestic tourism.

“Now, we will be extending the subsidy program to Central Luzon to ignite domestic travel in the region via Clark Airport to our countries’ major destinations,” said Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, TPB chief operating officer in a statement.

Under this program, TPB said 4,400 qualified unvaccinated or partially vaccinated domestic tourists may avail of free RT-PCR tests while 575 foreign travelers or balikbayans are offered 50% discounted rate for the COVID-19 test.

The program will run until June 2022.

Interested travelers who want to avail of the subsidized RT-PCR test must follow these steps:

  • Register online to pre-schedule at https://www.tpb.gov.ph/rtpcrtravel-centralluzon/
  • Submit a valid government-issued identification card, proof of hotel booking in a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment
  • Submit proof of mode of travel such as airline or bus ticket

Meanwhile, partner agencies, BCDA and JBLMGH said they are honored to help Philippine tourism get back on its feet as they expressed their full support and cooperation for the success of the subsidy program.

“We trust that this partnership will give air commuters peace of mind that travel through CIA is protected and safe. This program should also encourage travelers and Balikbayans to spend their hard-earned money for local tourism,” said Aristotle Batuhan, BCDA officer-in-charge said.

“We, at JBLMGH, is committed to provide timely and quality testing results to the clients that we will be catering. We will do our very best to provide smooth and pleasant experience for all as we fully support this project,” JBLMGH Chief II Dra. Monserrat Chichioco also said.

The TPB-DOT’s RT-PCR subsidy program was first launched in December 2020. They partnered with the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) and University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital (UPPGH) to offer discounted rates of COVID-19 test.

TPB said that the program has since benefitted more than 45,100 qualified domestic tourists.

Through this program, the tourism agency is optimistic this will restore the confidence of the public to travel especially in regions 1, 2 and 3. They are also hopeful that this would sustain the newly revived flights from Clark to Boracay and Cebu, bringing in a total of 5,884 travelers moving domestically every month.

Philippines to open to all foreign tourists

The RT-PCR program expansion also came as the national government announced that there will no longer be a limit to the number of international passengers arriving in all ports of entry in the country next month.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is lifting the arrival quota for unvaccinated passengers in all ports of entry starting April 1.

The IATF-EID, through Resolution 164-a, also made the submission of a negative laboratory-based antigen test result taken within 24 hours from departure an alternate option for arriving passengers.

Prior to this, a negative RT-PCR result taken 48 hours prior to the departure from point of origin was required.

The DOT said visa issuances by Philippine embassies and consulates are also set to resume on April 1, in time for the easement of travel restrictions.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat welcomed this development and said that the country’s tourism industry is “on its way to recovery.”

“We at the DOT thank our colleagues in the IATF for approving such measures that will help sustain the recovery of the sector in the coming months. We have high hopes that all of these will result in an uptick in international travelers visiting the country during the summer season,” Puyat said.

“While our domestic tourists have been the pillar of our recovery, we are also excited to welcome more foreign visitors in the weeks ahead. Such a move to further ease our borders and recognize the vaccination certificates of other countries is very important, noting that our top foreign markets were part of the visa-free countries,” she added.

Since the country reopened to foreign leisure travelers from visa-free countries last February 10, the DOT has since recorded 76,736 arrivals to the country's main ports as of March 9, 2022. Of these, 43,249 are international visitors, while 33,487 are balikbayans.





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