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Boracay top destination of local tourists availing DOT's 50% COVID-19 test subsidy
This September 2020 photo shows the sunset in Boracay island, Malay, Aklan.
Malay Municipal Tourism Office/Facebook

Boracay top destination of local tourists availing DOT's 50% COVID-19 test subsidy

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - February 27, 2021 - 6:26pm

MANILA, Philippines — Tourists from Metro Manila who have availed of the of the tourism department’s 50% subsidized COVID-19 test have visited world-famous Boracay island, according to the its attached agency, Tourism Promotions Board.

The DOT and its marketing and promotions arm Tourism Promotions Board first signed a memorandum of agreement with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) last December 15 to subsidize 50% of the hospital’s real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing cost of P1,800 for about 11,000 qualified domestic tourists.

On December 28, the DOT and TPB expanded the financial subsidy program for tourists and also inked a MOA with Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) to make RT-PCR test affordable to 11,600 tourists. The expansion of the program was launched in time for the New Year revelries.

“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,” Tourism Secretary Romulo- Puyat said in December.

Through this subsidy program, domestic tourists can avail of the 50% subsidized test, at P900 and P750, from the UP-PGH and PCMC, respectively, by visiting this website www.tpb.gov.ph/rtpcrphtravel

Based on the data from UP-PGH and PCMC, TPB chief operating officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones in a recent text message said the top destinations visited by local tourists from Metro Manila who availed the subsidy are Boracay, Bohol, Baguio and El Nido, Palawan.

“As of 15 February 2021, there were 8,849 who successfully availed of the RT-PCR 50% subsidy with PCMC; while 4,335 successfully availed of the RT-PCR 50% subsidy with UP-PGH,” Allones told Philstar.com, referring to Boracay tourists.

Meanwhile, she said here's the summary of approved RT-PCR applicants vis-à-vis the top five destinations, as of February 15, according to TPB:

UP-PGH
1. Boracay - 4,335
2. Palawan (El Nido and Coron) - 305
3. Bohol - 280
4. Baguio - 111
5. Siargao - 104PCMC
1. Boracay - 8,849
2. Palawan (El Nido and Coron) - 611
3. Bohol - 473
4. Siargao - 289
5. Baguio – 173

On Saturday, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ announced that tourists are no longer required to submit negative COVID-19 tests before travel, unless the local government unit of the destination would require them.

Tourists are also no longer required to submit travel authority and medical certificate before entry to a destination.

Quarantine is also mandated if a traveler exhibited symptom upon arrival at their destination.

The DOT said the uniform travel protocols is seen “to encourage domestic travel and help in the speedy recovery of Philippine tourism.”

From a total of 2,034,599 tourists in 2019, one of the country’s top tourist destination, Boracay’s tourist arrival decreased by 84% with only 334,455 visitors last year.

According to a report furnished by the Malay Municipal Tourism Office to Philstar.com, in 2020, local tourists dominated the arrival records with 172,259. This was a decline of 82% from the previous year which posted 932,433 local visitors.

The island also only attracted 145,658 foreign tourists in 2020, down 99.99% from the previous year, which recorded 1,037,619.

On the other hand, only a total of 16,538 overseas Filipino workers visited Boracay, a 74% decrease from 2019’s 64,547.

The latest report from Malay Municipal Tourism Office showed that a total of 11,278 tourists visited the island from Feb. 1 to 21, 2021.

Domestic tourist arrivals so far

Meanwhile, here’s the breakdown of visitors count in some top tourist destinations of the country since they reopened amid the modified general community quarantine:

  • Baguio City – 47,499(Oct. 1, 2020 to Feb. 14 2021, travels approved)
  • Bohol – 2,331 (Nov. 15, 2020 to Feb. 19, 2021)
  • Siargao – 2,522 (December to Feb. 26, 2021)

Online travel sale

To further boost domestic tourism, the LGUs and accredited accommodation establishments have launched initiatives such as online travel sale and discounts for summer travelers.

This month, the DOT collaborated with the provincial government of Bohol for its online travel fair called “Balik sa Bohol: Bohol Online Sale.” The island-wide travel sale which began last February 21 will run until March 14. Sale deals offered to tourists are up to 70% off on accommodations, dining and tour services. 

“We look forward to more people travelling to Bohol to see and experience the beauty and wonders of the province,” Puyat said.

In Boracay, Hue Hotels & Resorts Boracay offers its “We Got Hue” Room Package that already covers RT-PCR test at the resort’s accredited clinics in Makati and Pasay City with room accommodation for two persons for three days and two nights. The sale will be available until June 2021.

El Nido Resorts, on the other hand, welcomed back their valued guests through “travel bubble” trips.

It launched its first-ever online booking website dedicated for their travel bubble trips, where tourists can book directly via their website at www.ayalalandhotelsandresorts.com and avail of huge savings until February 28.

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