TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The first group of Taiwanese passengers to fly to Palau under a new travel bubble is expected to land in the Pacific country early next month.
The first group of tourists will likely depart for Palau as soon as early April, CNA cited a source familiar with the matter as saying.
On Monday (March 8), the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began discussions on a tourism bubble between Taiwan and its diplomatic ally Palau.
The source stated that the two governments have started formal negotiations on the relevant details and that the talks have reached the final stage. Based on the progress made so far, the source expects Taiwan to dispatch its first tour group to Palau in early April.
Palau has also provided a list of designated attractions, hotels, and restaurants where the tourists can visit, and the nation will allow Taiwanese travel agencies to freely arrange itineraries. According to the source, in order to minimize the risk of infection, travelers must have no history of traveling abroad, quarantine, home isolation, and no record of coronavirus infection within the past 6 months.
The bubble will consist of eight flights to Palau per week. Each flight will only be allowed to transport up to 200 passengers.
Those in Taiwan wishing to take part in the travel bubble must join a tour group on a 4-day and 3-night itinerary. Taiwanese travel agencies say this trip will rise from the pre-pandemic price of about NT$30,000 (US$1,000) to NT$50,000, according to CTS.
However, once health insurance and numerous testing fees are factored in, that price tag could rise to NT$80,000, reported UDN. Before departure, passengers will need to go to a designated hospital to undergo a total of three polymerase chain reaction (PCR) coronavirus tests, and the facility will then send the reports to the Taiwan Testing and Certification Center.
Upon arrival in Palau, passengers must undergo screening for coronavirus antibodies. When the travelers return to Taiwan, they will need to quarantine for five days, according to the report.
However, because there are currently no local COVID-19 cases being reported in either country, the CECC is leaning in the direction of not requiring quarantines for returning passengers but still mandating coronavirus tests, according to CNA’s source.