Baguio tourists to benefit from subsidized antigen testing

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Some twelve thousand visitors are expected to benefit from the subsidized antigen test that will be rolled out by the city 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 because of the subsidy the city government got from the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) to help in reducing the cost of the test so that travelers will be enticed to visit the city following the re-imposition of the stricter border controls requiring people entering the city to present their negative swab or antigen test results.

Earlier, the city government got 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 implementation of the various levels of community quarantine to contain the spread and transmission of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Mapalo pointed out that the subsidy will be applied for visitors who opt to have their antigen test conducted in the city’s central triage prior to their entry to the city after registering 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 city’s 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 city 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 in the different parts of the country over the past several days.

Mapalo stipulated that the city government started informing the public the offered visitor’s subsidy.

Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong expressed his gratitude to Secretary Puyat for providing the funds 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 livelihood of the residents will not be significantly impacted by the implementation of the basic health and safety protocols. By Dexter A. See