First batch of Taiwanese tourists arrive in Palau

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The sold-out China Air flight landed in Palau at around 7:30 pm Thursday night carrying around 100 tourists from Taiwan. (Office of the Palau President photo)

The travel bubble between Palau and Taiwan has officially opened with the arrival of the first batch of tourists.

For the first time since March 2020, Palau finally allowed tourists to come in but only after instituting a travel bubble agreement with Taiwan.

Like many nations, Palau closed its borders from tourists at the beginning of the pandemic to prevent the entry of the COVID-19 virus into the island.

The sold-out China Air flight landed in Palau at around 7:30 pm Thursday night carrying around 100 tourists from Taiwan.

Aboard the flight was Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr who returned to Palau following a state visit to Taiwan.

Also aboard the return flight was US Ambassador to Palau John Hennessey-Niland and Taiwan’s Ambassador to Palau Wallace Chow.

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According to a release from the Office of the President, President Whipps Jr. along with the ambassadors of the U.S. and Taiwan to Palau signed the Palau Pledge to mark the occasion.

All visitors entering Palau usually take the pledge, which serves as the island’s official passport stamp, promising to preserve the environment and respect the culture of the island.

According to the Palau Office of the President, the Bureau of Tourism has launched the Pandemic Safety Certification Program which has already trained and certified around 100 tourism-related businesses in handling and mitigating the risk of COVID-19. This is in preparation for the arrival of more tourists to the island.

Vaccination efforts are also in full swing. As of this week, 65 percent of Palau’s population has already been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Initially, there will be two scheduled flights out of Taiwan per week — as part of the travel bubble —- but that could expand to more flights in the future.

Passengers are restricted to Taiwanese passport holders and those who have been tested and cleared before boarding the plane in Taiwan.

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