Taiwan, Palau establish Asia-Pacific’s first ‘travel bubble’

Beijing, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- Taiwan and Palau inaugurated the first “travel bubble” established in Asia Pacific, which will allow travel from one place to another without the need to quarantine, according to local press.

The agreement, signed during Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr.’s visit to Taiwan this week, has been made possible “thanks to the efforts of both parties to control the pandemic,” Taiwanese Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said Thursday.

The first flight, chartered by China Airlines (CAL), left Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei at 2.30pm (6.30am GMT) Thursday bound for Palau.

To qualify for this bubble, travelers must be at the airport five hours before departure and get tested for the coronavirus, according to the Taiwanese news agency CNA.

Palau’s ambassador to Taiwan, Dilmei Louisa Olkeriil, said the island country awaits with open arms the arrival of Taiwanese tourists, who will be “the only foreign visitors in the world,” Radio Taiwan International said.

Palau is one of 15 countries that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which has been governed autonomously since 1949, but whose sovereignty is claimed by Beijing.

In fact, Surangel Whipps Jr.’s visit did not sit well with China. On Monday, Chinese fighter jets surpassed the Taiwanese Air Defense Identification Zone and received radio warnings from Taiwan, which also deployed its air defense missile systems to monitor the activity. EFE-EPA


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