Domestic tourism has received a significant boost as the COVID-19 pandemic eases in Taiwan, with the offshore archipelago of Penghu one of the top travel destinations, according to a Penghu County government press release on Sunday.
With overseas travel restrictions still in place, many people in Taiwan have chosen to visit Penghu, a collection of about 90 islands located in the Taiwan Strait midway between Taiwan and China.
According to the county government, summer has always been peak travel season for Penghu, but this year it has been particularly busy because people in Taiwan are eager to travel as COVID-19 fears ease in the country but overseas travel remains difficult.
County government numbers show that from July 1-18, a total of 153,135 people arrived in Penghu either by air (113,577) or by sea (39,558).
The arrivals surpassed the total number of visitors in July 2019, which stood at 132,860, said the press release.
The archipelago's main island Penghu is accessible by plane from Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung on Taiwan proper and the county is now seeing 152 flights taking off and landing per day, it noted.
Penghu's capital Magong City is also accessible by ferry from Chiayi County and Kaohsiung, it said.
However, almost all inbound and outbound flights and ferries are fully booked, it added.
The travel business has become so busy that tour bus companies in Penghu, which only have a total of 160 buses, had to ask their counterparts on Taiwan proper to send more vehicles to the offshore island to meet increased demand, according to the press release.
A rental car/scooter company operator surnamed Chen (陳) told CNA that all the archipelago's existing 15,000 scooters and 300 cars for rent are fully booked until mid August.
Meanwhile, a hotel operator in Penghu surnamed Chang (張) told CNA that hotels and B&Bs in Penghu suffered huge losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic that saw travelers cancel about 5,000 hotel rooms from January to May.
Chang said hotel business operators are happy to see travelers returning to the island group with high occupancy rates at almost all local hotels and B&Bs.
However, the county government reassured those who wish totravel to Penghu in the coming weeks that the archipelago has 53hotels and 850 B&Bs providing more than 7,000 rooms.
The room numbers can accommodate 20,461 guests per day, more than enough to meet demand, it added.