Guam has postponed the reopening of its borders today to travelers from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea until further notice in view of the recent increase in local COVID-19 cases in the US territory.
“As a result of the recent spike in local cases and out of concern for the safety and well-being of our island community, we have decided it is best to postpone our reopening,” Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said on Friday, adding that her administration has spent the past several weeks developing the necessary health protocols and guidelines for the island’s residents and visitors.
Mandatory 14-day quarantine measures and testing requirements are still in effect for all travelers entering the island, the Guam Visitors Bureau said.
“It has always been the condition that if things change, we will revisit our reopening date. I want to thank our travel trade and industry partners for giving us a moment to get our house in order so we can all enjoy our beautiful island together at a later time,” bureau President and CEO Carl T.C. Gutierrez said.
In other news, the Tourism Bureau and Taiwan Visitors Association yesterday morning held a video conference with Japan’s Mie Prefecture Governor Eikei Suzuki to talk about promoting safe tours between Taiwan and Japan when their borders reopen to travelers.
Tourism Bureau data showed that more than 7 million visitors traveled between Japan and Taiwan last year, with 4.9 million traveling from Taiwan to Japan, and 2.16 million from Japan to Taiwan.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of travelers between the two countries from January to May this year dwindled to 950,954.
The bureau and the association have been exchanging views with Japan and other neighboring countries on increasing the number of visitors after the pandemic eases, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said.
“The ministry is in charge of assessing and planning for possible countries where the tours could be restarted, but we also need to comply with the decision from the Central Epidemic Command Center,” he said.
In other developments, the budget plan for a third bailout package, which would offer relief funds to tour businesses operators and hoteliers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to sustain them from this month to September, would be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for review during the extraordinary session, Lin said.
Although the Legislative Yuan would not complete the review of the special budget plan until the end of this month, Lin said that the government could start using part of the funding to help businesses.
Hotels in the six special municipalities in which foreign visitors accounted for more than 50 percent of their guests before the pandemic would qualify for the third bailout, Lin said.
About 500 international tourism hotels would qualify for the relief funds, which could top NT$1.8 billion (US$60.69 million), Tourism Bureau data showed.
“We do not want hotels to lay off workers and hope that the funds would help them cover the salaries of their employees,” he said.
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