CORONAVIRUS/First vaccination tourism group from Taiwan leaves for Guam

07/06/2021 04:45 PM
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Travelers check in at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport early Tuesday morning for their flight to Guam. CNA photo July 6, 2021
Travelers check in at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport early Tuesday morning for their flight to Guam. CNA photo July 6, 2021

Taipei, July 6 (CNA) A charter plane carrying 164 passengers departed Taiwan Tuesday morning on the first vaccination tourism flight to Guam, where COVID-19 vaccines are being offered to travelers under a new program.

The EVA Air flight, the first on the Taipei-Guam route since 2017, was scheduled to arrive in the Pacific island at 2:55 p.m. local time, and most of the 164 travelers were expected to seek the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the travel agency that booked the tour.

Yu Kuo-chen (游國珍), a spokesperson for Lion Travel, said 73 percent of the travelers on Tuesday's flight are people under the age 50, most of whom are seeking to take advantage of Guam's vaccination and vacation (Air V&V) program, probably because Taiwan's vaccine rollout has not yet reached that age category.

He said 97 percent of the passengers on the flight are aiming to get vaccinated, with about 38 percent opting for the Moderna vaccine, 34 percent for Pfizer, and 23 percent for Johnson & Johnson.

Guam, a United States island territory in the northern Pacific Ocean, launched its Air V&V program in June in a bid to revive its tourism industry, saying participants can choose between the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

According to Yu, all of Lion Travel's five-day tour packages to Guam on July 6, 10, 14, and 18 have been sold out, while a 22-day tour that starts July 22 is 80 percent booked.

One of the travelers on Tuesday's flight told reporters at Taoyuan International Airport that she was taking the opportunity to get vaccinated in Guam, because she had not visited her parents in Taiwan in two months for fear of infecting them with COVID-19.

Another passenger said she and her two children were planning to stay in Guam for 20 days so they could receive two COVID-19 vaccine shots.

A family of four who plan on getting vaccinated in Guam. CNA photo July 6, 2021
A family of four who plan on getting vaccinated in Guam. CNA photo July 6, 2021

With Taiwan still struggling to procure an adequate supply of COVID-19 vaccines, Guam's Air V&V program has attracted strong interest among travelers in Taiwan.

Under the Air V&V program, visitors to Guam are exempt from quarantine, once they can present a valid negative COVID-19 test result on arrival.

Eligible travelers can obtain a COVID-19 vaccine shot the day after their arrival and then freely tour the island, where over 75 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the government there.

The Guam tourism office has listed the cost of the COVID-19 vaccines under the Air V&V progam at US$100-US$200 and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the disease at US$200 each.

(By Yu Hsiao-han, Wu Jui-chi and Emerson Lim)

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Note: Taiwan
Note: Taiwan's vaccine rollout began on March 22, first with doses from AstraZeneca, then the Moderna ones on June 9.
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