MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippine government is looking at subsidizing half the cost of RT-PCR tests to make travelling again more attractive during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tourism Sec. Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Tuesday.
The government will partner with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, which offers the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test at about P1,900, said Puyat. The results of the test come out in 24 hours, she said.
"We are looking at how to probably make travel vouchers. Mura na nga yung P1,900, gusto pa namin mas affordable, so we’re looking at making it, parang subsidizing 50 percent of the RT-PCR in UP-PGH," she told ANC's Headstart, adding that she will relay further details once they are settled.
The Department of Health and Department of Trade and Industry recently signed a joint administrative order placing price cap of RT-PCR testing in private testing hubs at P4,500 to P5,000, while public testing centers are only allowed to charge P3,800.
Beach destinations Coron, Palawan and Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte are reopening to tourists on Tuesday. Travelers must present negative RT-PCR test results from 48 to 72 hours before the trip.
Puyat said all tourist destinations apart from Baguio City currently require RT-PCR tests.
Panglao in Bohol, a famed diving spot, will also open soon, said Puyat. She said she is also in talks with the local government of Zambales to also slowly reopen to tourists.
Meanwhile, Dumaguete City, the island province of Siquijor, and Davao City, which houses the Pearl Farm, are still not yet reopening.
"This is up to the LGU, because we have to give the respect to the governors and mayors kasi elected sila. Pag magka-outbreak, sila ang bahala," she said.
Puyat said her agency is working with different stakeholders to ensure safely restarting the tourism sector, which was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.