The Fiji Times » Historic Palau-Taiwan travel bubble under way

The Fiji Times » Historic Palau-Taiwan travel bubble under way

More than 100 tourists landed in Palau, kicking off the first travel bubble with Taiwan, with President Surangel Whipps Junior accompanying them on the plane.

Whipps, who returned to Palau on a Thursday night flight after a four-day visit to Taiwan, encouraged potential tourists to spend their holidays in the coronavirus-free Pacific nation.

The flight is the first of a twice-weekly arrangement between Palau and Taiwan, and Whipps hopes to be the “stimulus” the country’s economy needs.

Palau’s vaccination program was a key factor in the decision to slowly open to tourists.

Palau is on track to achieve herd immunity, with at least half of Palau’s 18,000 population partially vaccinated by the end of March, Whipps said.

“It’s very important for Palau that our vaccine gives us a boost, and by allowing tourists in, our economy gets a boost,” Whips said.

Whips’ visit to Taiwan is also historic as he is the first foreign head of state to visit Taiwan since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For up to $2,800, tourists can vacation in Palau and snorkel in the Rock Islands, but are restricted from socializing with the community.

Travelers will be required to test negative for the coronavirus hours before boarding.

During a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen earlier this week, Whipps said that while Covid-19 testing and the requirement for tourists to be at the airport five hours before departure could be an inconvenience at the moment, he said it was for tourists and Pa the safety of the working people.

If it proves successful, flights and tourist numbers are expected to increase.

Whipps thanks Taiwan and the US for making the bubble possible and keeping Palau free of the coronavirus.

“Both Taiwan and the United States have provided Palau with personal protective equipment, testing supplies and equipment, and expert technical assistance throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The U.S. has been supplying Palau with a Covid-19 vaccine since January 2021. But the partnership between Taiwan, Palau and the U.S. is not limited to public health or epidemic management,” Whips said in a statement said in.

The trip to Taiwan also demonstrated the strong relationship between Palau, Taiwan and the US, with US Ambassador John Hennessy-Neelland joining the presidential delegation.

“This visit by President Whippes, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Palau John Hennessey-Neelland, reaffirms our commitment to promoting democracy and good governance, tackling climate change, advancing digital health, advancing women’s empowerment, and promoting agriculture. , strengthen US-Taiwan Palau cooperation. Trade, strengthen Coast Guard cooperation, strengthen Palau’s cybersecurity,” the statement added.

During a trip to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, this week, Whipps told the media he was also looking forward to seeing direct flights from the city.

Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s largest port city, and Whipps said the visit will provide Palau with new ideas for revitalizing the nation’s economy, from interstate transportation and terminal facilities to aquaculture.

The mayor also plans to conclude a sister city agreement with Palau’s capital Koror state, he said.

Tsai Ing-wen said she was promoting to the people of Taiwan that Palau is a safe destination.

The travel bubble will set a global precedent for how to travel safely, she said.

“Together, we will show the world that this model of safe travel will work as the pandemic subsides,” Cai said.

She said she was also looking forward to visiting Palau again.

In Palau, with the border open to tourists, social media comments have raised concerns about whether the community will need to wear masks from now on.

Senator Umiich Sengebau expressed confidence in a travel bubble, especially one from low-risk regions such as Taiwan.

“I think we have everything ready so we can start welcoming tourists.

Given that we haven’t reached 80% of the population herd immunity, it would have been different if they had come from elsewhere. I feel very confident in Taiwan’s ability to ensure that they do not accidentally introduce Covid-19 into Palau,” he said.

Returning to Palau, Surangel Whipps said he was glad the day had finally come.

“This is the world’s first sterile travel corridor between two Covid/Covid-free countries and I’m very proud of what Palau and Taiwan have done to get us here.

“Taiwan is the perfect partner for this safe travel corridor. Not only because of their success in the fight against Covid-19, but also because Taiwanese tourists visit with respect for the people, environment and culture of Palau. Our two countries trust each other – So we are able to have zero quarantine at the border between the two countries.”

The President also thanked the Ministry of Health, Palau Tourism, Tourism Board, Border Protection Officers and all frontliners for their efforts to make this happen.

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