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Business insider warns hotel closures imminent if Taiwan keeps borders closed

Country saw arrivals plummet from over 11 million pre-COVID to fewer than 150,000 in 2021

A view at Sun Moon Lake. (Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area photo)

A view at Sun Moon Lake. (Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The accommodation industry in Taiwan is pleading with the government to open its borders or see a new wave of closures by the end of the year, reports said.

Taiwan has implemented one of the strictest border controls anywhere in the world since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and its people have been very cooperative. However, the prolonged restrictions have taken a toll on the travel industry and the government is not doing enough, lamented Hsiao Ching-tien (蕭景田), president of the Taiwan Tourist Hotel Association.

He warned more hotels are expected to go out of business with tourist arrivals continuously dwindling. According to official figures, Taiwan saw a record 11.84 million visitors in 2019, but the number plunged to a mere 140,479 in 2021.

Questioning the effectiveness of the flurry of incentives for the industry, Hsiao said bailout subsidies have been a drop in the bucket and many establishments have failed to benefit from the country’s tourism promotion bids. Business hotels in Taipei, for example, have not been able to ride the wave of domestic tourism centered on the tourist attractions of Hualien, Pingtung, and outlying islands, Hsiao told TVBS.

Imperial Hotel Taipei, which had a history of over a century, shut down in 2021 after struggling to make a profit. It was one of the first to be converted into a hotel offering quarantine services but the vigorous cleaning and disinfection required turned out to be too costly.

The hotel ultimately decided to embark on subsidized reconstruction in hopes of a rosier future after the pandemic eases. Many facing the same conundrum have taken a similar path, including the Sherwood Taipei, Ambassador Hotel Taipei and Kaohsiung, Leofoo Hotel, and Taipei Fullerton Hotel.

Hsiao called for an expedited opening of Taiwan to attract international travelers amid pent-up global demand. If not, the wobbling hotel industry is destined to lose out to those in countries already welcoming back tourists, he noted.

In a move to relax border rules, Taiwan announced a shortened quarantine for all visitors from Wednesday (June 15). Arrivals will be subject to three days in isolation and four days of self-health monitoring.