CORONAVIRUS/Passengers at Taoyuan Airport could drop to below 1 million in 2021
Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) Due to tight border controls amid COVID-19, the number of passengers handled by Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is likely to be less than 1 million in 2021, Taoyuan International Airport Corp. (TIAC) said Tuesday.
Hung Yu-fen (洪玉芬), spokesperson of TIAC, which operates the airport, cited data as saying the number of passengers at the country's main international airport reached about 600,000 in the first eight months of this year, making it likely the total for the whole year could hit an historic low of less than 1 million.
Hung said passenger volume in 2021 will fall from 7 million in 2020 after Taiwan faced a surge in domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases in mid-May, which led the government to raise its alert from Level 1 to Level 3, further restricting the movement of people and tightening border controls.
In the eight month period, arrivals at the airport totaled 266,897 and departures hit 342,675, according to TIAC.
TIAC said anticipated passenger volume in 2021 will be even less than the approximately 4 million recorded 42 years ago, when the airport became operational, and will be far behind the yearly peak of more than 40 million at the airport.
Due to the reduced passenger volume, Hung said, 13 of the airport's 38 boarding gates remained closed.
However, as the domestic COVID-19 situation has been brought under control, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has eased restrictions to allow on-site dining at restaurants in the airport's restricted departure area and all unrestricted areas, starting from Tuesday.
Before the restriction were eased, only 30 percent of the restaurants at the airport were open. TIAC said it hopes the new dining rules will raise the number to 50 percent.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has also hurt the local tourism market. The Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) cited data as saying local residents in Taiwan took only 6.7 trips on average in 2020, the lowest in nine years and 1.3 trips less than a year earlier, due to restrictions on movement.
In a statement, the DGBAS said the number of trips taken by local residents in Taiwan totaled 140 million in 2020, sharply down 15.5 percent from a year earlier.
In 2020, about 88.4 percent of local residents took at least one trip, down 2.7 percentage points from a year earlier, the data indicated.
However, average spending on trips taken in 2020 rose 4.9 percent from a year earlier to NT$2,433 (US$86.89) largely because the government provided subsidies to encourage people to travel and spend locally, the DGBAS said.
Nevertheless, total local tourism spending still fell 11.4 percent from a year earlier to NT$347.8 billion in 2020, the DGBAS added.
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