Lion Travel yesterday said it is organizing tours to Guam after the Guam Visitors Bureau launched a tourism program allowing foreign visitors to get COVID-19 vaccinations while vacationing in the US territory.
The bureau’s Air V&V (vaccination and vacation) program aims to revitalize Guam’s tourism sector after it was severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was previously offered only to US expatriates, but foreign visitors can now be vaccinated through the program as well.
Under the program, travelers would be vaccinated on the second day of their arrival and then be quarantined for three more days in a participating hotel. They would be permitted to travel on the fifth day if they test negative in a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
Visitors who want to get vaccinated in Guam need to book a complete travel package, including their accommodation, transportation to and from the airport, and COVID-19 vaccination.
The tour can range from a minimum of three days to 32 days or more, depending on the vaccine chosen.
While there is no charge for the vaccination, visitors must pay for their accommodation, with the cost of a hotel room varying from US$150 to US$350 per night.
Each person must also pay the bureau a US$880 fee, which covers three PCR tests, a doctor’s visit to their hotel to administer the vaccine and other administrative expenses.
Media reported that the quarantine requirement might be waived for foreign tourists next month, when the vaccination rate among residents in Guam is expected to reach 80 percent.
The program is expected to be popular among Taiwanese, as so far only about 6.4 percent of Taiwan’s population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has yet to offer vaccines to people not on its priority list given a shortage of vaccines.
Lion Travel general manager Andy Yu (游國珍) said that the agency is organizing a five-day tour to Guam in view of the new tourism program.
“A five-day tour would suffice for tourists who choose vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson, which only requires one dose. In that case, the tour could cost less than NT$50,000 per person, which includes flights and accommodation,” Yu said.
“However, if tourists choose vaccines made by other pharmaceutical firms, they are expected to stay in Guam longer and would have to rebook return flights. The tour cost could reach NT$200,000 for a 30-day visit,” he said, adding that the quoted prices do not include fees to be paid to the bureau.
People who would need to stay for a month or so to complete their vaccination are advised to travel to the US and get vaccinated, he said.
In response to media queries, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that travel agencies are banned from using vaccinations as a marketing tactic for their tours, but the CECC does not ban individuals from traveling abroad to get vaccinated.
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