Tourists flock to Taiwan as COVID entry restrictions ease

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan lifted all COVID-19 entry restrictions Thursday, allowing tourists to enter the self-governing island without restrictions after more than 2.5 years of border controls.

Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as mainland China, require most tourists to complete mandatory quarantine periods throughout the pandemic, even as most countries reopen their borders to tourists.

Visitors no longer need to quarantine upon entry, or undergo any PCR testing. Instead, they will need to monitor their health within a week of arrival and receive a negative result on a rapid antigen test on the day of arrival. If people want to go out during the week-long monitoring period, they need a negative test that day or the day before.

It also no longer restricts the entry of certain nationalities into Taiwan.

Dozens of tourists from Thailand were among the first to arrive at Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport, which serves the capital Taipei, on a Tigerair flight that landed shortly after midnight under the new rules.

Tourists like Mac Chientachakul, 32, and his parents are happy to be on the island.

“Hot pot is my favorite dish in Taiwan,” Chientachakul said. “It was the first thing I would do … I miss it so much.”

Travel agency Sonia Chang said the changes would benefit both the tourism industry and Taiwanese residents, who can now travel abroad without needing to quarantine upon their return.

Valaisurang Bhaedhayajibh, a 53-year-old business development director at a design firm, called the new rules convenient.

“We don’t have to test before coming here and after we arrive,” he said. Taiwan authorities “still require us to conduct self-tests every two days, and everything has been provided”, including rapid test kits.

Passengers from Thailand were welcomed by Taiwan Tourism Bureau chief Zhang Shih-chung and distributed gifts during a welcoming ceremony at the arrival hall of Taoyuan International Airport.

The Taiwan Tourism Bureau estimated that 244 tourists from about 20 tour groups arrived on Thursday.

With both Hong Kong and Taiwan lifting restrictions and welcoming tourists back, mainland China remains one of the few places in the world that has insisted on closing its borders and adhering to a “zero COVID” strategy to stamp out the virus. Hong Kong ended its mandatory quarantine policy for incoming travelers late last month, requiring only a three-day self-monitoring period.


AP Writer Zen Soo is from Singapore.

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