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Taiwan’s COVID booster requirement for group tours draws ire

Tourism industry representative points out that policy came too suddenly, caught tour operators off guard

Taiwan’s COVID booster requirement for group tours draws ire

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center’s Friday (April 15) announcement that people engaging in group tours and some other activities are required to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster has drawn the ire of the tourism industry, which is now confronted with cancellations and refunds.

The booster shot requirement for group travelers and people participating in religious activities will take effect on Friday (April 22).

Tour operators participating in a tourism forum held in Chiayi County on Saturday (April 16) have complained to Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材), saying that the booster shot requirement will cause the industry significant economic hardship, CNA reported.

They said the central government’s sudden announcement of the third-dose mandate for participation in group tours has rendered many travelers unable to join tours they had already booked, and many have asked for cancellations and refunds, according to the CNA report. The tourism industry has suddenly had to deal with many canceled flight tickets and ferry tickets, and they asked who is going to cover the loss for them, per CNA.

Wang told media outlets after the forum that the Tourism Bureau and the Civil Aeronautics Administration had been negotiating with airlines and transport operators in the hope that travelers will be able to get as much of their prepaid tour fees back as possible.

Chiayi City Travel Agency Association Chairman Chen Hua-chung (陳樺忠) pointed out that the policy came so suddenly that it caught the tour operators off guard. He said he hoped the government can help the tourism industry deal with the loss and that policies like this can be announced one or two months ahead of time in the future, per CNA.