The Palau government is officially reopening its doors to tourists from Taiwan next month.
In a press conference Wednesday, Palau President Surangel S. Whipps, Jr. and Taiwan’s Ambassador to Palau, Wallace Chow, announced the launching of the “sterile corridor” or “travel bubble” between the two nations.
Officials in Taiwan also held a press conference announcing the opening of the travel bubble.
According to the Palau Office of the President, the inaugural live-in flight is set for April 1, with over 100 tourists from Taiwan who will be visiting under set guidelines.
Passengers are restricted to Taiwanese passport holders, and they have been tested and cleared before boarding the plane in Taiwan.
“So today we are happy to announce the date of the official tourist coming to Palau will be April 1st. Because they will have the machine at the airport — also a first —- to do PCR testing at the airport,” Whipps Jr. said during the press conference.
Whipps Jr. said the testing is a vital part of the sterile corridor.
“We are confident that they don’t have COVID but just to make sure, we are going to test them at the airport. Why are we testing them at the airport? To make sure that they don’t have a chance of getting it anywhere. They get on the plane. They come to Palau. They are free to go and enjoy Palau as soon as they get off the plane,” he said.
Whipps Jr. confirmed that a Palau delegation is heading to Taiwan on March 28…aboard a returning humanitarian charter flight. it will be a promotional tour to drum up interest in the travel bubble.
Initially, there will be two scheduled flights out of Taiwan per week but that could expand to more flights in the future…
Palau Visitors Authority Board Chairman Ngiraibelas Tmetuchl, members of the Ministry of Health-Emergency Operation Center, members of the Palau Media Council, and others joined the officials during the press conference.
“We will open but we will open with care,” Whipps Jr. said.