THE TOURISM department is now offering free swab tests to domestic travelers as more areas across the country drop the requirement of a negative coronavirus result for those who are fully vaccinated.   

“We decided to subsidize their RT-PCR tests 100%, so starting Nov. 1, it would cost zero,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement on Monday.  

The subsidy was previously set at 50%.   

“It’s now (fully) subsidized by the DoT (Department of Tourism) and the Tourism Promotions Board,” she said.  

DoT said 350 applicants per day will be granted free RT-PCR tests at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) starting Nov. 1. The department plans to tie up with more government hospitals.   

The DoT hopes that initiative would boost local tourism and recover jobs lost during the pandemic.  

“This program helps ensure the safety of tourists, tourism workers, and local stakeholders in various destinations,” it said.   

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

Among the areas that have lifted the testing requirement are: the freeport zones of Clark and Subic; Cebu, including the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu, and Mactan; Catbalogan City, -Tacloban City, Bohol, Iloilo City, Negros Occidental; and Misamis Oriental. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza