Taiwan to enter talks with Guam on ‘travel bubble’ deal

Taipei, March 31 (CNA) Taiwan and Guam are set to enter talks about the possibility of establishing a “travel bubble” together, the Tourism Bureau said Wednesday, the day before the inaugural flight operated under a similar initiative between Taiwan and Palau will depart from Taipei.

The agency said it had received a letter from the Guam authorities that day and that the two parties would convene soon.

Felix Yen (嚴樹芬), who represents the Guam Visitors Bureau Taiwan Office, said the office had expressed its interest to both the Tourism Bureau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about negotiating such a travel bubble arrangement.

According to Yen, top officials from Guam are eager to discuss the matter with the Taiwanese government, as the U.S. island territory considers ways to boost its tourism industry later this year.

Yen said Guam could follow Palau’s lead by launching a similar travel bubble initiative that would allow people from each side to visit the other with fewer COVID-19-related restrictions.

The Guam government aims to have vaccinated 50 percent of its adult population against COVID-19 by May 1, Yen said, adding that as of March 30, 31,171 residents, or 25 percent of the total adult population, had received their second dose.

Yen expressed high hopes of making a deal with the Taiwanese authorities, adding that Guam has reported very few COVID-19 cases recently, with no community infections.

As of Wednesday, Guam had reported 7,594 cases of the coronavirus and 134 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. However, the infection curve has flattened since last December, with only 36 cases recorded over the past two weeks.

In addition to Guam, two Southeast Asian countries — Vietnam and Singapore — have reportedly expressed interest in starting talks with Taiwan about easing travel restrictions.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Teng Pei-ju)

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