The Ministry of Transportation and Communications would on July 1 begin promoting the second phase of “disease prevention tours,” Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday, after the Central Epidemic Command Center on Tuesday announced that it would lift many restrictions on June 7.
Details of the tours would be unveiled in a week, Lin said.
Lin made the announcement at a news conference for the launch of the first phase of the tours, which are expected to see the participation of about 300,000 tourism industry representatives.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, received a hero’s welcome at the news conference.
The first phase of the tours, which is to last one month, was designed to ensure that people begin adopting a “new disease prevention lifestyle” to prevent them from contracting the novel coronavirus, while helping travel agencies develop new domestic tour packages and the tourism industry to begin getting customers again, Lin said.
Feedback from industry representatives about the tours would also help enhance the quality of domestic tours, he said.
The center has approved disease prevention guidelines for domestic tours proposed by the ministry, which companies and schools could use as a reference when they organize trips for employees and graduates, he added.
Taiwan each year has about 17 million outbound tourists, who are now likely to remain in the nation and go on domestic tours due to border restrictions, Lin said, adding that this would provide a strong boost to the domestic tourism market, which serves about 11 million tourists per year.
It would also prepare the nation to receive more international tourists once its borders reopen for tourism, he said.
Asked for specifics about the second phase of the tours, which would be open to all tourists, Lin said that the ministry hopes to tie it in with a stimulus coupon program proposed by the Executive Yuan.
“Businesses could throw in additional bonuses if consumers use vouchers to pay for the tours or other services,” Lin said. “We welcome and even encourage such developments, as it would provide value-added tours to tourists.”
The ministry has not canceled a plan to issue NT$500 (US$16.65) travel vouchers, which are now included in an expanded subsidy program for domestic tours that is to be implemented on July 1, he said.
The budget allocated for the program has increased from NT$2 billion to NT$3.9 billion, he added.
The second phase of the tours is expected to last about four months, Lin said, adding that as it is difficult to predict how the COVID-19 pandemic would be contained in other nations, the Cabinet has generally agreed that the time frame might be extended.
Chen said that he endorses the government’s promotion of domestic tourism, because Taiwan is a safe place to travel.
Although the center plans to start relaxing disease prevention measures on June 7, Chen said that people need to adopt a new lifestyle that prevents them from contracting COVID-19, which includes wearing masks, observing social distancing guidelines, washing their hands as frequently as possible and making sure people can be contacted if new infections are confirmed.
By cutting off people-to-people infection chains, investigating confirmed infections and treating those infected, Taiwan can mitigate the health risks caused by isolated confirmed cases after the nation’s borders are reopened, he said.
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