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Up to 30% of all bookings canceled at Taiwan's tourist hubs as Omicron fears grip population

Wave of hotel booking cancellations at Kenting, Xiaoliuqiu before the Lunar New Year holiday

View of the sea from Xiaoliuqiu's shores.

View of the sea from Xiaoliuqiu's shores. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant continue to spread throughout the country, a wave of booking cancellations has hit hotels in Taiwan’s Xiaoliuqiu and Kenting ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.

Before the latest wave of cases hit, roughly 80 percent of hotel rooms in these two prime holidaymaking spots in Taiwan’s far south were booked out. Yet as of Saturday (Jan. 15), between 20 to 30 percent of those bookings have been canceled, according to a CNA report.

“Hoteliers can only accept the reality,” said Hsu Po-han (許博翰), chairperson of the Xiaoliuqiu Tourism Association.

“Although the vaccination rate in Xiaoliuqiu is already above 70 percent, no one wants to return to Level 3 restrictions,” he went on.

“So most here view the guests’ decision to cancel as a reasonable one,” he added.

Taiwan’s tourism sector has been hard hit by the pandemic and extended restrictions on international travel. In August last year, representatives of the tourism industry in southern Taiwan pleaded with the Tsai administration to relax COVID-19 restrictions in the face of slow business.