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Taiwan's travel sector asks Tourism Bureau for help amid COVID booster requirement

Tourism Bureau mulls new aid package in May or June

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The travel sector requests more assistance from the Tourism Bureau to counter the impact of the COVID surge. 

The travel sector requests more assistance from the Tourism Bureau to counter the impact of the COVID surge.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Tourism Bureau should do more to help travel agencies and group travelers required to get a COVID-19 booster shot, lawmakers said Tuesday (April 26).

As the daily number of local COVID infections surged, the government said that from April 22, participants in tour groups would have to receive a third shot before being allowed to travel.

The move was met with protests from the travel sector over the haste of the measure and the lack of consultation before its introduction. Up to 50% of travelers canceled their bookings with agencies, according to Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator Andy Chiu (邱臣遠).

If no measures are taken to soften the blow, cancelations might surge to 80% of bookings, resulting in NT$10 billion (US$341 million) in losses for travel agencies, he said.

The government initially issued travel vouchers to help the sector weather the worst of COVID, but those will expire at the end of April, CNA reported. The TPP lawmaker called on the Tourism Bureau to launch a new package of measures, including advice to avoid cancelation disputes, subsidies for travel agencies and B&B operators, and postponement of loan repayments.

Responding to the travel sector’s demands, the Tourism Bureau said it would announce a new program to assist the sector in May or June featuring several of the points made at Tuesday’s TPP news conference.