Free swab tests for domestic tourists starting November 1

Manila, Philippines – Starting November 1, domestic tourists can have anti-Covid swab tests for free.

This was announced by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as it rolled out a new phase of its financial subsidy, though the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), to boost its domestic tourism recovery program.

Under the subsidy, a total of 350 applicants per day will be granted free RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) starting November 1.

Many of the country’s destinations now accept fully vaccinated visitors without requiring the swab test. The free testing is only for domestic tourists whose destination still requires a negative result from a RT-PCR test or for staycation purposes.

The program is part of the Department’s extensive efforts to market and promote the country as a safe tourism destination and pave the way to a more robust recovery of the tourism industry.

“As travel restrictions continue to ease up, we aim to encourage more tourists to visit their destination of choice by providing a full subsidy on RT-PCR testing. This program helps ensure the safety of tourists, tourism workers, and local stakeholders in various destinations,” said Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.

The recovery of the tourism industry had been hampered by the cost of the testing required by the local government units of the tourist destinations as part of the health and safety protocols against Covid-19. Many domestic tourists have had to put off travel plans because of the added cost of testing.

The partnership with PCMC was first rolled out in December 2020 covering 50 percent of the hospital’s swab testing cost. More than 15,000 tourists availed themselves of the subsidy program from January to June this year.

On June 23, the second phase of the program was implemented covering July to December 2021. This is now amended to cover the P1,500 full cost of the RT-PCR test with a cap of 350 approved applicants per day. This will benefit more than 12,000 qualified domestic tourists until the end of the year.

Previously, the TPB also partnered with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital in subsidizing 50 percent of the hospital’s swab testing for domestic tourists, which accounted for 17,320 tourists from Dec. 18, 2020 to July 7, 2021.

Domestic tourists wishing to avail themselves the free testing at PCMC may visit for application procedures and requirements. They may also visit to get the latest news and updates on travel requirements nationwide.

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