People would be able to use “Triplicate Stimulus Coupons” for domestic tours, as long as the Executive Yuan allows such use, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.
“The aim of the second phase of ‘disease prevention tours’ is to encourage people to get out and travel. Except for restrictions listed by the Executive Yuan, we will not impose additional limitations on the use of the coupons,” Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chi Wen-chung (祁文中) said after an event in Taipei promoting this year as the “Year of Mountain Tourism.”
Chi had been asked if the coupons — issuance of which is to begin on July 15 — could be used to help pay for government-subsidized “disease prevention tours,” which are scheduled to begin on July 1.
The ministry is to make a formal announcement detailing the second phase of the “disease prevention tours,” which would follow precedents set by the spring, fall and winter travel subsidy programs, Chi said, adding that the procedures and conditions travel service operators would have to follow to apply for reimbursement would be streamlined.
Allowing the stimulus coupons to be used for domestic travel would hopefully improve the quality of domestic tours, he said.
Local media have reported that members of tour groups would receive a NT$700 per day subsidy, which would be increased to NT$1,200 per day for tours to outlying islands, with the total amount of subsidies for each tour group capped at NT$150,000.
The ministry has proposed subsidizing individual travelers NT$1,000 per hotel room, local media said.
Asked if the travel subsidies would apply to reservations made through Booking.com, Expedia and other travel Web sites, Chi said that the subsidies are given to hotels, not online platforms.
“As long as tourists are booking rooms with legally operating hotels, they would certainly be subsidized,” Chi said.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is assessing a proposal by international airlines for Taiwan to lift its restrictions on travelers transiting through the nation, he said.
There is concern that airport employees could contract COVID-19 through contact with transit passengers, he added.
“Many nations are now forming ‘travel bubbles’ with other countries where the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained, so that quarantine requirements can be waived for people arriving from nations within the bubbles. However, Taiwan, has not been included in any bubbles,” Chi said.
“The government is seeking to form travel partnerships with other nations, such as New Zealand, but the CECC would have the final say on this matter,” he added.
In other developments, the ministry yesterday announced that it would relax restrictions on public transport and the tourism industry in line with the CECC’s move to loosen disease prevention measures on Sunday.
People would still need to wear masks and have their temperatures checked at the entrances to public transport stations, but once inside, they would not have to wear masks if they can maintain social distancing with other passengers or be separated by barriers, it said.
Bans on eating and drinking on Taiwan Railways Administration and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp trains, as well as domestic flights, would be lifted if travelers can maintain social distancing or those sitting near them wear masks, it added.
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