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‘Travel bubble’ between Taiwan and Palau possible

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KOROR  (Island Times/Pacnews) — A “travel bubble” between Palau and Taiwan is possible, Palau's Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism F. Umiich Sengebau said.

Inspired by the planned trans-Tasman Covid-safe travel zone between Australia and New Zealand, Sengebau said, the travel bubble “is an ingenious idea that we must consider for a country like Taiwan.”

Sengebau said if Palau would consider being part of the trans-Tasman travel bubble, a similar arrangement can be made first with Taiwan.

He said with Taiwan’s success story in curbing the spread of coronavirus, “this is mutually beneficial given the tourists from Taiwan want to visit Palau for leisure and Palauans go to Taiwan for medical treatments and some leisure time as well.”

He added, “Again, I think it makes sense to start this ‘travel bubble’ with Taiwan initially before opening our borders to other countries.”

The leaders of New Zealand and Australia are discussing the possibility of easing travel restrictions between the two nations “as soon as it is safe to do so,” a joint statement from the prime ministers’ offices said.

The statement said that as soon as “effective travel arrangements across the Tasman” are established they would look into extending that bubble to the Pacific.

“A trans-Tasman Covid-safe travel zone would be mutually beneficial, assisting our trade and economic recovery, helping kick-start the tourism and transport sectors, enhancing sporting contacts, and reuniting families and friends,” the statement said.

No time frame has been given but the two leaders said that the plan will be cautiously planned.

Sengebau said given the proximity of Taiwan to Palau “it makes sense to start this “travel bubble” with Taiwan initially before opening our borders to other countries.”

Palau’s economy relies heavily on tourism, while in recent years, tourists from China was the top market, and travelers from Taiwan is also one of the key markets.

Palau is one of Taiwan’s remaining allies in the Pacific. With Taiwan’s aid, Palau had a headstart in preparing against the threats of Covid-19.

As of May 7, testing for Covid-19 were conducted on 487 individuals and all yielded negative results.

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