RT-PCR TEST. (Clockwise from upper left) Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, UP-PGH director Dr. Gerardo “Gap” Legaspi, TPB chief operating officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, and DOT-TPB DCOO Jocelyn Patrice Deco show copy of a memorandum of agreement signed in a virtual ceremony on Tuesday (Dec. 15, 2020). Under the deal, the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) will subsidize half the cost of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test of some 11,000 domestic tourists at the UP-Philippine General Hospital. (Photo courtesy of DOT)

MANILA – Tourists may now apply for a subsidized reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test at the UP-Philippine General Hospital following a formal agreement between the public hospital and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB).

The subsidy program, with PHP10-million budget from the TPB, will help some 11,000 tourists in getting their RT-PCR test, which remains a requirement in most destinations that reopened recently.

From the original price of PHP1,800 charged by PGH, the TPB will shoulder 50 percent of the test cost, cutting the fee for travelers to PHP900.

The TPB said this move seeks to "restore confidence" in safe travel and support the gradual reopening of specific domestic travel destinations, such as Palawan, Boracay, Bohol, Baguio, and Ilocos Norte.

The partnership was formalized during the virtual signing of a memorandum of agreement by Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, TPB chief operating officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, and UP-PGH director Dr. Gerardo “Gap” Legaspi.

Romulo-Puyat expressed hope that the initiative will help "break the barrier for domestic tourists to actually make plans, especially in this Christmas season.”

“Domestic tourism benefits a country in a number of ways. It brings immense opportunities for all, particularly generating jobs and creating entrepreneurial activities to help our economy recover, apart from enabling us to rediscover our pride of place and culture when we visit our diverse sites and enjoy the re-calibrated products offered by our destinations,” she said.

To avail, the tourist must register at https://www.tpb.gov.ph/rtpcrphtravel/ five days before the scheduled departure date, and submit a copy of a valid government-issued ID, a copy of a confirmed accommodation booking, and proof of transportation ticket for the appropriate mode of travel. Families and groups can also be scheduled together.

Tourists with approved applications will then receive an email from UP-PGH and will be notified of their swab test schedule.

As UP-PGH can only accommodate 100 RT-PCR tests per day, the TPB said applications will be attended to on a first-come, first-served basis.

Velasco-Allones said the current tranche of fund assistance would be up to June 2021.

"'Yong budget kasi natin for the current year can be used until June 2021 and then next year depende sa situation then we can again renew the MOA. Nandiyan naman 'yong commitment ni Secretary (Romulo-Puyat) na puwede nating ituloy (Our budget for this year can only be used until June 2021 and then next year depending on the situation, we might renew the MOA)," she told reporters. (PNA)