Tourists to benefit from subsidized antigen testing

24 March 2021 – Some 12,000 visitors are expected to benefit from the subsidized antigen test that will be rolled out by the local government on Monday, April 5, 2021 to help in gradually, safely, surely and responsibly opening the local tourism industry.

Supervising City Tourism Operations Officer Engr. Aloysius C. Mapalo stated that for the meantime the city will be charging visitors P500 for the antigen test while residents who are frequent travelers will be charged P350 per test.

By April 5, 2021, tourists will be charged P350 for their antigen test – on a first come first serve basis and until the budget lasts – because of the subsidy that the local government got from the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) to entice visitors despite the re-imposition of the stricter border controls requiring people entering the Baguio to present their negative COVID-19 test results.

The local government was able to get a subsidy amounting to P1.8 million from the TPB courtesy of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat for the aggressive marketing and promotion of the local tourism industry that was heavily impacted by the prevailing pandemic.

Mapalo pointed out that the subsidy will be applied for visitors who opt to have their antigen test be conducted in the city’s central triage prior to their entry to the city after having registered in the city’s online registration platform, following the submission of the required documents and the issuance of their QR-coded tourist pass.

According to him, the subsidy will be implemented for as long as the funds are available or until such time that the projected number of recipients shall have been reached based on the data from the VISITA online registration platform.

The city started to slowly increase the number of tourist arrivals since it gradually opened the local tourism industry last year until the daily tourist arrivals reached more than 6,000 although the actual number of tourist arrivals as reflected based on the records of the central triage is around 80 percent of those who registered on the registration platform.

However, the local government re-imposed stricter border control measures and limited the number of tourist arrivals to only 3,000 daily following the recent spike in COVID cases.

Mapalo said that the local government started disseminating to the public the offered subsidy to visitors wanting to visit the city by next month and who are willing to have their antigen test be taken in the central triage prior to their entry to the city.

Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong expressed his gratitude to Secretary Puyat for providing the funds that will be used for the aggressive promotion and marketing of the local tourism industry.

He asserted the importance of having to strike a balance between health and economy so that the employment and sources of livelihood of the residents will not be significantly impacted by the prevailing implementation of the basic health and safety protocols since what should be prioritized is the safety and health of the people. – Dexter A. See