On Thursday, October 13, Taiwan fully reopened its borders to international travelers after a break of 2,5 years due to COVID-19 pandemic-driven restrictions.
Visitors began arriving on the island on Thursday without the need for quarantine or PCR tests for the first time in more than two and a half years. Two tourist groups from Thailand were first to check in at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport past midnight on Thursday.
Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung told reporters the island’s reopening was a chance to “bring back to life and rebuild cross-border tourism”.
Taiwan had imposed severe restrictions on the entry of international travelers to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus since the beginning of 2020.
Visitors to the self-governing island had been required to spend three days in isolation after authorities earlier this year cut the quarantine period from 10 and then seven days.
Under the new border arrangements, visitors are still required to monitor their health for seven days and take rapid antigen tests.
Victor Wang, head of Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center, and Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung greeted the arriving visitors with face masks and travel pillows.
“COVID-19 has made cross-border travel a near-impossibility over the past two-and-a-half years, and the reopening of borders presents an opportunity to revive and rebuild the market,” Chang said.
He said the government will help the “local tourism industry restore revenue from cross-border tourism to pre-COVID levels while expressing hope that workers who had to leave the tourism industry during the pandemic could return to the sector soon.”
The self-ruled island has reported nearly 7 million COVID-19 cases including over 11,600 deaths, according to the US’ Johns Hopkins University.
Taiwan’s tourism bureau estimated that a total of 244 tourists from some 20 tour groups arrived Thursday.