TPB’s subsidized swab project shows Pinoys heading for Boracay for their pandemic break

Boracay Island, Aklan

CLOSE to 41,000 domestic tourists have been approved for Covid-19 tests subsidized by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the marketing arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Topping the list of destinations where the tourists went was Boracay Island, where almost 84 percent or 34,293 individuals were approved for the RT-PCR test subsidy. This was followed by 2,355 who went to Bohol;  2,105 to Palawan (Coron, Busuanga, El Nido, Puerto Princesa); and 793 to Siargao. Other destinations on the list were Baguio, Cebu, Ilocos Norte/Sur, Zambales, Bataan,  and Batangas.

In a Viber message to the BusinessMirror,  TPB Chief Operating Officer Ma. Anthonette Velasco-Allones said, “The TPB considers its RT-PCR subsidy program as a key step in supporting the restart of domestic tourism.”

She added, “The consistent number of tourists wanting to avail of the subsidy affirms its value in helping rationalize the cost of travel. Equally important is the fact that this measure helps ensure that  our primordial concern for safe travels is concretized.”

Safe destination

Boracay was just awarded the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels Stamp, acknowledging it as a safe destination to visit amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The WTTC Safe Travels Stamp was awarded by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat to Aklan Gov. Florencio Miraflores and Malay Mayor Fromilo Bautista on July 7, as the island started vaccinating A4 tourism workers.

“As early as now, we need to prepare our facilities and destinations to be visitor-ready, with health and safety as key concerns. The WTTC Safe Travels Stamp, on top of our accreditation, will hope to restore travelers’ confidence in the Philippines as a ‘safe and fun’ destination,” Romulo Puyat said in a news statement.

The stamp was also given to 11 Department of Tourism-accredited accommodation establishments, namely Le Soleil de Boracay, Discovery Shores Boracay, Shangri-la Boracay, Hue Boracay, Wald’s Place, Amable Suites, Lime Hotel, The Lind Boracay, Movenpick Resort and Spa Boracay, Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel, and Belmont Hotel Boracay.

How to apply for test subsidy

Meanwhile, under the TPB project, the cost of RT-PCR nasal swab tests were 50-percent subsidized and were carried out at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) in Manila, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center  (PCMC) in Quezon City from Dec. 18, 2020 to July 7, 2021. Of the total Covid-tests subsidized, 17,320 were administered at UP-PGH, and 23,637 at the PCMC.

However, the TPB and UP-PGH have already stopped accepting applications for subsidized swabs since July 8, said Velasco-Allones, “as the number of approved applications has already reached the allocated slots for the subsidy.”

Last month, the DOT and TPB renewed its partnership with the PCMC for the second phase of the subsidized RT-PCR tests project. From July to December 2021, she said, 13,333 qualified domestic tourists will be able to tap the subsidy window.

To avail themselves of the subsidy, travelers must first register online to pre-schedule their RT-PCR test at http://www.tpb.gov.ph/rtpcrphtravel/ and submit a valid government-issued identification card, proof of hotel booking in a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment, and proof of mode of travel such as airline or bus ticket. PCMC will accept RT-PCR test applications on a first-come, first-served basis.

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