Taiwan ramps up efforts to promote island-hopping cruise travel

Cruise liner Explorer Dream to depart from Keelung Sunday, head for outlying tourist destinations

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(Penghu National Scenic Area Administration photo)

(Penghu National Scenic Area Administration photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has embarked on an endeavor to promote travel to its outlying islands as part of the 2023 Year of the Island-Hopping Tourism initiative.

Sea travel will be at the top of the country’s tourism agenda despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the domestic cruise ship industry, said Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) on Wednesday (July 22). The ministry will throw its weight behind the industry, assisting businesses seeking transformation and service innovation, wrote CNA.

In addition to Kinmen, Penghu, and the Matsu islands, other islets with unique traits off Taiwan’s coast will also be spotlighted for offshore travel. A focus will be to bolster the port facilities of these potential tourist attractions, ensuring they can accommodate cruise liners with a gross tonnage of over 10,000, according to the Maritime and Port Bureau.

Taiwan will be the first country in the world to resume cruise ship travel, with the Explorer Dream setting sail for Kinmen, Matsu, and Penghu starting Sunday (July 26). The island-hopping itinerary will take passengers on a trip teeming with gorgeous scenery and historical appeal in addition to events such as the Penghu summer fireworks festival.

Operated by Hong Kong-based Dream Cruises, Explorer Dream has a passenger capacity of 3,630. The ship docked at the Port of Keelung on June 30, with 588 crew members undergoing a 14-day quarantine; PCR test results last week suggested none of the crew have COVID-19.

U.S.-based Princess Cruises will not resume operations in Taiwan until next year due to the pandemic, which has brought its cruise services to a halt, said Peter Chen (陳欣德), the company’s representative to Taiwan.