TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is planning to gradually reopen transportation and tourism in three stages, the last of which will allow foreign tourists to visit the country in October, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).
As Taiwan has been able to bring its Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak under control, with no new imported cases in 13 days and zero local infections in 38 days, Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) at a press conference on Friday (May 15) announced a three-stage draft plan to relax epidemic prevention restrictions on transportation and travel. The third stage will allow foreign tourists to enter the country.
Stage 1: Relaxation of food ban and ticking restrictions
During the first stage, which will run between May 27 to July 31, passengers on trains will be allowed to eat food during their journey. However, they will still be required to wear face masks before and after eating.
In addition, starting with the Dragon Boat Festival holiday in Taiwan (June 25 to June 28), Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) trains will once again be allowed to sell standing tickets and Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) trains will be allowed to sell non-reserved seats.
Step 2: Tourism subsidies and end of face mask requirement
The second stage, which will take place between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31, will include NT$2 billion (US$33 million) in subsidies for group tours, accommodations for independent travelers, amusement park tickets, tour and double-decker bus fares, and other discounts. Depending on the progress containing the outbreak and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) instructions, face masks, body temperature measurements, and social distance requirements may be discontinued.
Step 3: Opening Taiwan to international tourism
Due to the severity of the ongoing pandemic in much of the world, Lin said that opening the country to foreign tourists will be the last phase. The timeline currently planned for this is Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.
During this phase, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau will coordinate with the CECC and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on evaluating and stabilizing the epidemic situation. These agencies will work together to achieve recovery and secure growth opportunities for international tourism in Taiwan.
At the same time, government agencies will cooperate with the CECC on gradually relaxing various border control measures, including the restrictions on connecting flights, arrivals taking mass transportation, and international cruise ships. This will include the resumption of direct air and sea travel via the “mini-three-links” between the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu and China.
Lin pointed out that Taiwan's control of the outbreak is the best form of international marketing. The minister expressed confidence that the country "will see the fastest recovery of tourism in Asia and even the world."