SAFE TOURISM. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat (second from right) pushes for the reopening of tourism industries in accordance with health and safety protocols imposed by local government units. With Puyat, who visited Dumaguete City on Thursday (Feb. 25, 2021), are (from left to right) Dauin Mayor Galicano Truita, Dumaguete Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo, and Rep. Manuel Sagarbarria of the 2nd District of Negros Oriental. (Photo courtesy of Syril Repe)

DUMAGUETE CITY – Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat on Thursday said local government units (LGUs) have the “power” to set their respective protocols as the Department of Tourism (DOT) pushes for “safe tourism”.

Speaking during a press conference at a local resort here, Puyat called for support to local tourism as many areas in the country are now slowly opening up their borders to accept non-residents.

“We want to open up tourism but with health and safety protocols in place, with close cooperation with our mayors, our stakeholders, and our congressmen (as) the Department of Tourism cannot do this alone,” she said.

Puyat reminded all travelers to follow all the minimum health and safety protocols” such as wearing of face masks and face shields, physical distancing, and regular washing of hands.

RT-PCR price cap

The DOT, she said, was the first to ask for a price cap on the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or swab test as many travelers were complaining that it was too expensive.

The price cap was lowered to PHP3,500 from as high as PHP11,000 but DOT still finds it expensive, she said, adding that they have partnered with the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City, for a PHP750 charge on swab testing with results released in 24 hours.

She added that the DOT has also requested the Philippine General Hospital for a price reduction of RT-PCR test from PHP900 to PHP500 “so that people will be able to travel” especially Filipinos who always travel as a family.

She said they will respect LGUs’ policy requiring an RT-PCR test before travel.

Joining Puyat in the press conference are Rep. Manuel Sagarbarria of the 2nd District of Negros Oriental, Dumaguete Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo, and Dauin Mayor Galicano Truita. (PNA)