CORONAVIRUS/Business sector urges opening borders ahead of projected Oct. 13 date

09/22/2022 10:21 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 22 (CNA) A number of business associations on Thursday said if the pandemic starts to subside, the government should consider opening the borders before the proposed Oct. 13 date announced by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) the same day.

President of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China Hsu Shu-po (許舒博) said he previously implored the Executive Yuan to lift border restrictions at the beginning of October.

If there is a clear drop in COVID-19 cases by Sept. 29, restrictions should be lifted even sooner, Hsu said.

Hsu noted that border restrictions have had a long and lasting effect on Taiwan's economic development and the government should proceed with its plans to reopen the country for the sake of the business sector and the general public.

Meanwhile, Chairman of Taiwan's Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce Lin Por-fong (林伯豐) said it has been two to three years since local companies have been able to conduct business in Taiwan with current or prospective foreign business partners.

Should the government expedite the reopening of Taiwan's borders, the economic recovery spurred by the decision will greatly benefit local businesses, he said.

The business sector believes those who are fully inoculated should be treated differently to those who are incompletely vaccinated or unvaccinated, and the former should be exempted from the seven-day "self-initiated epidemic prevention" that arriving travelers are expected to observe beginning Oct. 13, Lin added.

On the impact the return of normal border policies will have on the tourism industry, several local tourism companies have said it will take about six months to a year for the sector to fully recover.

Speaking with CNA, Phoenix Tours general manager Benjamin Pien (卞傑民) said the reopening of Taiwan's borders and the accompanying "0+7" policy, under which arriving visitors will no longer be required to quarantine for three days, but will be required to undertake seven days of "self-initiated disease prevention," are welcomed by the industry.

Travel agencies have been surviving on limited operations during the pandemic, making income through ticket sales and other minor services instead of regular tours. With the reopening, tour companies and their partners can finally return to normal operations, Pien explained.

However, he added that a high number of businesses and partners in the industry did not survive the pandemic, which will limit the speed of recovery for both inbound and outbound tourism, with an estimated six months to a year needed for the industry to return to normal.

Cheng Chao-kang (鄭兆剛), chief executive officer of Asian online booking platform AsiaYo, said revived tourism will see more backpackers than tour groups and more reservations made with Airbnbs rather than hotels, as Airbnbs are usually less crowded and could be perceived as a safer lodging choice with lower risk of COVID-19 transmission than hotels.

Chu Chun-jung (朱俊榮), an executive officer of online Taiwanese travel agency EzFly, said that while industry growth is anticipated, cost and prices will also increase due to more expensive gas, airfares and hotel charges.

(By Chiang Ming-yen, Cheng Hung-ta, Yu Hsiao-han and James Lo)

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