A frontliner is seen collecting swab samples from a resident in this PNA file photo by Robert Alfiler.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is looking at providing free swab tests to persuade more tourists to visit the country’s re-opened destinations.

At present, travelers from Metro Manila may avail of the discounted PHP750 RT-PCR test from the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, the original price of which is PHP3,577.

“Our subsidy with the PCMC is continuous. If things go as planned, we’ve been asking permission if we could subsidize everything, make it zero already,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in an ANC interview on Wednesday.

In Baguio City, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated minors aged 12 to 17 must present a negative RT-PCR or antigen test result taken within 72 hours.

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For adults, only those who have been fully inoculated will be allowed entry to the city.

Boracay Island also requires a negative RT-PCR or saliva test result taken 72 hours prior to travel, but Romulo-Puyat said the local government may waive the test by November for fully vaccinated individuals.

Also requiring a test taken 72 hours prior on top of other entry requirements are Cebu City (unvaccinated, partially jabbed), El Nido in Palawan, Baler, Camiguin, and Ilocos Norte.

Other destinations, on the other hand, require that the RT-PCR test is taken 48 hours prior to departure such as Coron and San Vicente in Palawan, and Surigao del Norte Province, including Siargao.

For Camiguin and Coron, only fully vaccinated tourists with negative swab test results are allowed to enter. Some destinations like Bohol and Cebu City, meanwhile, are scrapping their RT-PCR requirement for fully vaccinated individuals.

Age restrictions, registrations, and other entry documents vary depending on the destination’s local government unit.

Romulo-Puyat is optimistic more destinations would ease up their restrictions as the government ramps up its vaccination for the general population as well as the tourism workforce.

“Our goal is we want to vaccinate 100 percent (of the tourist workers) before the Christmas season and hopefully if they’re vaccinated 100 percent, they would ease up on travel restrictions,” she said.

The country has so far vaccinated 65 percent of its tourism workers across the country, the Tourism chief said. (PNA)

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