The island of Palau is among the very few countries outside of the Holy See which still recognize the Republic of China, residing in Taiwan, as the official representative of the Chinese people. Palau is also one of the few places on this planet which have remained without a single CoViD-19 case. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) of Taiwan announced last week the official start of the “travel bubble” with Palau. The five principles and three conditions forming the base of the agreement may give us a glimpse of how the first steps back to international travel will look like. So it is worthwhile to look at it in some detail. The tourism bubble is set to start in April.
The leader of CECC said during the announcement that he hopes that the new bubble will revitalize tourism and economic activities while taking into account safety measures to minimize the risk of infection and transmission.
He laid out the five major epidemic prevention principles:
Travellers must stay with their tour groups at all times. Personal excursions are not allowed.
The itinerary is based on the principle of avoiding crowds and demarking areas that are separate from local residents, and appropriate lodging and travel routes must be selected in advance.
Fixed transportation hubs will be adopted throughout the whole process, and vehicles transporting tourists will be cleaned and disinfected daily.
Travellers can only stay in hotels that have obtained the “safety and epidemic prevention certificate” approved by the local health department in Palau.
Restaurants must have designated dining areas and appropriate distribution of customers, with properly planned entry and exit paths and seating arrangements to maintain appropriate social distancing.
Furthermore, there are three conditions for Taiwanese travellers to qualify for the travel bubble:
No history of international travel within the past six months.
No quarantine or home isolation within the past two months.
No record of coronavirus infection within the past three months.
Additional measures are required before departure and after return: Prior to departure, travellers must also provide negative PCR test results. After return, they have to undergo a period of “Strengthened self-health monitoring”. They do not need to do another PCR test or go into quarantine, but should for five days stay in a room alone or only with those who travelled together, wear masks, maintain social distancing, and not eat together. After another negative test they can venture out, but only to engage in fixed and limited activities and without using public transport or visiting crowded places while still wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
It will be interesting to see, how many Taiwanese travellers will engage in this form of “tourism with Corona characteristics”.
At least there will be some travel data produced which will be eagerly awaited by the participants of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Data Analytics Forum, which is an annual gathering for the tourism industry in Abu Dhabi to exchange data and insights on the latest trends in the industry. It will take place on Sunday, 28th of March from 11:00 to 15:00 h UAE time (GMT+4). You can register here but be careful: In many countries, the daylight saving time or summer time is starting in the night 27th/28th of March, but UAE does not observe daylight saving time, so it is British Summer time 08:00 to 11:00 h or German Summer time 09:00 to 12:00 h.
Your humble editor will participate in a panel discussing “The way back: What the world can learn from China’s travel restart after COVID-19” from 12:30 to 13:00 h UAE time together with Olivier Henry-Biabaud, CEO of TCI Research and Sienna Parulis-Cook of Dragon Trail International. The whole event is – obviously – virtual and free of charge and includes also other key speakers like Neil Stubbings, CEO at GTS Altitude and Sumathi Ramanathan, Director of Destination Marketing at Expo 2020. I hope to see you there.
As always, all best wishes for the week from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI Weekly team!
The video version of this editorial is available on COTRI YouTube Channel.