The Department of Tourism had provided a 50 percent subsidy for the COVID-19 test to tourists from Metro Manila traveling to famous tourists destination where Boracay tops the list, according to DOT's attached agency, Tourism Promotions Board.
A memorandum of agreement with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), which the DOT and the Tourism Promotion Board signed last December 15, agreed that a subsidy of 50% of the hospital's real-time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) cost of P1,800 can be availed by 11,000 qualified domestic tourists.
Also, the DOT and TPB signed a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC) and further expanding the financial subsidy by increasing to 11,600 tourists. The program was launch last December 28, just 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.
The subsidy program made it possible for domestic tourists to avail of a 50 percent subsidized test. From the current price of P1,800, having to avail the program, it dropped to P900 to P750 from the UP-PGH and PCMC by visiting the website www.tpb.gov.ph/rtpcrphtravel.
Based on the data provided by the UP-PGH and PCMC, Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, the TPB chief operating officer, said in a text message that Boracay, Bohol, Baguio, and El Nido Palawan, received the most number of domestic tourists who availed the subsidy.
“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 referring to Boracay tourists told Philstar.com.
According to Allones here's the summary of approved RT-PCR applicants vis-à-vis the top five destinations, as of February 15, according to TPB:
- Boracay - 4,335
- Palawan (El Nido and Coron) - 305
- Bohol - 280
- Baguio - 111
- Siargao - 104
- Boracay - 8,849
- Palawan (El Nido and Coron) - 611
- Bohol - 473
- Siargao - 289
- Baguio – 173
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases' (IATF-EID), finally announces last Saturday that the submission of a negative COVID-19 test is no longer required for tourists traveling. Though with the exemption of certain Local Government Units that requires a test before entering their province.
In addition, tourists are no longer required to submit a travel authority and their medical certificate before traveling to their destination. On the other hand, tourists are required to be quarantined if they have shown symptoms of the virus upon their arrival.
According to the DOT, establishing a uniform travel protocol for every province can encourage domestic travel once more and "help the speedy recovery of Philippine tourism."
Boracay's tourist arrival suffered extreme losses which decreased by 84 percent this year with only 334,445 visitors compared to the last year 2019 with at least 2, 034,599 tourists. With the island only managing to attract 145,658 foreign tourists this 2020, a tremendous drop to 99.99 percent from last year's recorded data of 1,037,619.
The latest report from the Malay Municipal Office reveals that a total number of 11,278 tourists visited the island starting from February 1 to 21 this year.
Domestic tourist arrivals so far
Here’s the breakdown of the number of visitors in some top tourist destinations 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
For summer travelers, the LGUs and accredited accommodation establishments have launched initiatives such as online travel sales and discounts to further boost domestic tourism.
This February, 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 and it'll be available until June 2021. The package covers RT-PCR tests at the resort’s accredited clinics in Makati and Pasay City with room accommodation for two persons for three days and two nights.