Guam, Taiwan still ‘cautiously’ talking about a ‘travel bubble’ arrangement

TECO Director General Paul Chen (PNC file photo)

The government of Guam and Taiwan are still considering a travel bubble arrangement, but are taking a more cautious approach.

This month, the Guam Visitors Bureau organized a meeting with Taiwan’s Minister of Transportation and Communications to discuss a possible “travel bubble” between Guam and Taiwan.

According to the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, the government of Guam was the one that requested a travel bubble although the Taiwan government has also expressed its desire to have closer relations with Guam. The two governments have become even closer with the opening of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office on Guam.

Paul Chen, the director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, or TECO, confirmed that both Taiwan and Guam are still in talks about the possibility of opening a travel bubble.

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“We are working very closely with the Guam Visitors Bureau to explore the possibility of opening a travel bubble between Taiwan and Guam. Right now, the Guam representative is talking with my government about the travel bubble. We are going to see…when the pandemic is over then we can think about it. You see that we are very close with GVB, too…Our statement: We are optimistic but we are cautious,” Chen said.

The International Air Transport Association defines a travel bubble as “a state-level agreement that enables international air travel between two or more countries based on a mutually agreed set of public health mitigation measures.”

Guam is well on its way to receiving overseas travelers again by May 1 once GovGuam reaches its target of having 50 percent of the adult population vaccinated through its “Path to Half” initiative.

According to the TECO director-general, this would be the determining factor for the opening of the travel bubble.

“Right now…the situation is…we are hopefully waiting for the herd immunity …after vaccination is over 50 percent of the Guam population…We are looking forward to see the numbers,” Chen said.

If a travel bubble materializes between Taiwan and Guam, GVB said in earlier board meetings that Taiwanese carriers EVA Air and China Airlines are ready to transport tourists to Guam.

A new Taiwanese carrier, Starlux Airlines, has also applied to service the Taiwan-Guam route.