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Southern Taiwan's tourism industry pleads for partial relaxation of COVID restrictions

Kenting without swimming unlikely to attract many visitors: Tourism industry rep

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Southern Taiwan's tourism industry pleads for partial relaxation of COVID restrictions

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The tourism industry of southern Taiwan's Xiaoliuqiu Island and Kenting is calling on the government to further relax COVID-19 restrictions in the face of slow business.

Representatives of the tourism industry on Xiaoliuqiu Island, a small island off the coast of Donggang Township in Pingtung County, issued a joint statement on Friday (Aug. 13), saying that when COVID was surging, the island was hailed as the safest place in Taiwan, with all tourism operators voluntarily suspending operations out of concern for public safety, CNA reported.

However, since the COVID alert was lowered to Level 2 on July 27, tourist attractions and water sports on the island have remained off-limits, causing serious damage to the tourism industry, according to the statement.

Local tourism operators have even been offering discounts for visitors with proof of vaccination or negative rapid screening results in an attempt to boost tourism on the island, the statement continued.

Since the country downgraded the alert to Level 2, the Kenting National Park Headquarters has allowed certain water sports, such as surfing, paddleboarding, canoeing, scuba diving, surfing, and jet skiing, with only one person allowed per canoe or paddleboard. However, swimming and snorkeling are still banned, and swimming pools at hotels will remain closed until at least Aug. 23.

Pingtung County Bed and Breakfast Association Chairperson Lin Su-ming (林淑敏) said that a Kenting without swimming will not attract many visitors just as a matter of course. She called on the government to strike a balance between epidemic prevention and the economy and cease depriving tourism operators of their livelihoods.

Howard Beach Resort Kenting General Manager Chang Chi-kuang (張積光) said that currently, the occupancy rate at the hotel is only about 30%, adding that it’s hoped that the government will put forth conditions for hotel swimming pools and gyms to reopen.