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South Koreans pray Taiwan ends travel restrictions at sky lantern event

Ample numbers of Koreans will visit if Taiwan reopens, says head of local tourism association

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Sky lanterns. (Pixabay photo)

Sky lanterns. (Pixabay photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — South Koreans who gathered at a Taiwan sky lantern festival event in Seoul on Thursday (April 14) prayed the country would quickly end travel restrictions so they can visit Taiwan again.

The event was organized by the tourism bureau of Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and the Taiwan Tourism Association in Yeonnam-dong, a district of Seoul. It is customary to write a wish on the sky lanterns and many participants prayed the COVID-19 pandemic would pass and Taiwan would open up its borders soon, per a CNA report.

The two-day event began on Wednesday (April 13) and featured traditional Taiwanese snacks, (bubble milk tea, pineapple cakes and so on), but also some delicacies Koreans are fond of, such as nougat biscuits and mango-flavored beer. Chili-oil wontons were also on offer.

"Korean people really want to go to Taiwan. As long as the lockdown is lifted, there is no need to worry about the lack of tourists,” President of the Seoul Tourism Association, Yang Museong, told CNA.

South Koreans have been embarking on “revenge travel” as loosening travel restrictions trigger an explosion in demand for outbound flights. Top destinations include Hawaii, Saipan, Guam and a number of countries in Europe and Southeast Asia, but at this stage, not Taiwan.

While much of the rest of Asia opened its borders to tourists within recent weeks, Taiwan has remained closed off. Health authorities in Taiwan have ruled out the possibility of a full reopening this year.

On Wednesday (March 23), asked whether Taiwan would join the rest of the region in removing quarantine requirements, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) stated: “It is impossible this year. This will be a difficult thing to predict.”