DOT pushes drive for safe tourism

The Department of Tourism (DOT) pushes its drive for safe tourism even as it respects the “power” of local government units (LGUs) to set and prescribe their own protocols.

Addressing a recent press conference in Dumaguete City. DOT Secretary Bernadette Puyat rallied public support for local tourism as many areas in the country are now slowly opening up their borders to accept non-residents.

“We want to open up tourism but with proper health and safety protocols in place, with close cooperation with our mayors, our stakeholders, and our congressmen (as) the DOT cannot do this alone,” she said.

Puyat likewise reminded and urged all travelers to follow all the minimum health and safety protocols such as wearing of face masks and face shields, physical distancing, and regular washing of hands.

She said the DOT was the first to ask for a price cap on the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or swab test as many travelers were complaining that it was too expensive.

The price cap was lowered to P3,500 from as high as P11,000 but DOT still finds it expensive, she said, adding that they have partnered with the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City, for a P750 charge on swab testing with results released in 24 hours.

Puyat said the DOT has also requested the Philippine General Hospital for a price reduction of RT-PCR test from P900 to P500 “so that people will be able to travel” especially Filipinos who always travel as a family.

The Tourism Secretary, however, stressed they will respect LGUs’ policy requiring an RT-PCR test before travel.

Joining Secretary Puyat in the press conference were Negros Occidendal 2nd district Rep. Manuel Sagarbarria, Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo, and Dauin Mayor Galicano Truita, among others.