The Philippines’ tourism attache to Taiwan on Monday said that she hopes a “travel bubble” between Taiwan and the Philippines can be established next year, especially as there is a high rate of vaccination among tourism workers in the Southeast Asian country.
“We really look forward to having a bubble, a travel bubble, between Taiwan and the Philippines, at least for example Boracay or Bohol, because our tourism workers are fully vaccinated already,” Philippine Department of Tourism in Taiwan director Hazel Habito Javier said in an interview on the sidelines of a travel industry appreciation dinner in Taipei.
“As for the community, the vaccinations are ongoing,” Javier said. “And we are hoping by next year we will be able to push through with a bubble.”
Photo: Reuters
Boracay has pristine white beaches and lush tropic scenery, while Bohol is renowned for its Chocolate Hills and marine adventures.
A timeframe for a bubble would depend on quarantine requirements, Javier said.
Taiwan and the Philippines require inbound travelers to quarantine for 14 days, with varying guidelines for the times of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing.
Manila Economic and Cultural Office chairman Wilfredo Fernandez also advocated a travel bubble between the two nations.
“Think of the finest sandy beaches, amazing diving locations, Filipino foods served with the warmest of smiles as one island-hops somewhere in the Philippines,” Fernandez said.
Metro Manila, which is home to about 13 million people, is almost 99 percent fully vaccinated, Fernandez said, adding that hospitality industry workers in Boracay are 100 percent fully vaccinated, while Bohol, Palawan and Cebu, as well as some other places, have rates exceeding 80 percent, he said.
“Therefore, Philippine borders, especially for travel and recreation, are ready to welcome our closest neighbor, Taiwan,” Fernandez said.
The importance of Taiwanese visitors was expressed by Philippine Secretary of Tourism Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who said in a video that Taiwan was a significant source market for her country before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In fact, in 2019, Taiwan was [one of] our top-five markets and brought in a total of 327,273 tourists, 35.01 percent higher compared to the previous year,” Romulo-Puyat said. “In 2019, the total spending of Taiwanese tourists in the country reached US$252.1 million.”
Travel Agent Association of ROC, Taiwan chairman Hsiao Po-jen (蕭博仁) said that Taiwanese would hopefully be able to visit the Philippines next year without needing to quarantine.
However, Taiwan would need to reciprocate for the idea to work, Hsiao said.
“It is hoped that our cooperation with the Philippine Department of Tourism can allow quarantine-free travel for tourists next year, because having it only for one way is meaningless for Taiwan,” he said.
Separately, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) told reporters that it was still too early to say what quarantine measures would be in place next year, as it would depend on the pandemic situation.
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