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Taiwan sends tourism delegation to Palau to explore travel bubble opportunities

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu leading group of tourism industry representatives to Palau as Pacific island elects new president

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu departs for Palau on Jan. 20 (MOFA photo)

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu departs for Palau on Jan. 20 (MOFA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) departed for Taiwan’s Pacific ally Palau on Wednesday (Jan. 20) with a group of tourism agency personnel and the aim of exploring business possibilities under a travel bubble.

The Taiwanese envoy will take part in the presidential inauguration on Thursday (Jan. 21). He will also meet with current President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. and the new president, Surangel Whipps, Jr., separately during the trip, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) statement.

MOFA said Wu and the delegation from Taiwanese tourism agencies are scheduled to tour Rock Islands and other travel destinations in Palau to look for chances to promote tourism once the two countries begin mulling a travel bubble.

President-elect Whipps has encouraged this initiative, said MOFA, even though the Pacific island state has imposed strict travel restrictions for months to keep the coronavirus from spreading into the country. Local media outlet Island Times reported that Whipps had allegedly sent a letter to the Taiwanese government proposing to exempt Taiwanese travelers from quarantine.

On the other hand, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center, which leads the country’s COVID-19 response, has so far been reserved in its support for travel bubble deals with other countries, citing the pandemic’s precariousness. However, it sent two Centers for Disease Control officials to Palau earlier this month “on a fact-finding mission" to gather information on potential travel opportunities, Palau’s Ministry of Health said in a press release.