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Number of visitors to Taiwan’s Penghu Islands crashed by almost half in 2021

COVID outbreak in May 2021 caused decline in tourism

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The number of visitors to Penghu declined by almost half in 2021. 

The number of visitors to Penghu declined by almost half in 2021.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The number of visitors to Penghu fell almost by half during 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the county government said Tuesday (Feb. 8).

The archipelago in the middle of the Taiwan Strait between the country’s main island and China is famous for its sandy beaches, seafood, cactus-based delicacies, and rock formations. Most visitors travel to the capital Magong first by airplane or ship from Taiwan’s main island.

During all of 2021, Penghu welcomed 618,000 visitors, a sharp drop from the 1.14 million arrivals recorded the previous year, CNA reported. The onset of the COVID pandemic in 2020 cut the number of visitors during the first part of the year, though it was followed by a period of what county officials labeled “revenge traveling” later in the year, allowing the total number of visitors to exceed 1 million.

From January until May 2021, tourism on the islands recorded an increase of 250,000 visitors compared to the same period the previous year, 117,000 of those reported during the Penghu International Fireworks Festival in April. However, in May, the number of new local COVID infections for all of Taiwan exploded to more than 400 a day.

As a result, airlines cut or even canceled their flights to Penghu, while the authorities banned mass events to prevent the spread of the virus. The second half of the year saw the number of visitors drop by 775,000 from the same period in 2020, leading to a total decline of more than half a million arrivals for all of 2021.

County Commissioner Lai Feng-wei (賴峰偉) said at the presentation of the data Tuesday that he hoped the impact of the COVID pandemic on the islands’ economy would soon be a thing of the past, with tourism and other sectors recovering in 2022.