On Thursday (29 Sep) , Taiwan resumed its visa-free entry for 67 countries, including Singapore.
The weekly arrival limit for international travellers was also increased from 50,000 to 60,000.
The deep-throat polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival will be replaced with four antigen rapid tests instead.
The Taipei government originally said that it would only decide if the country will proceed to the second stage of easing the travel restrictions after reviewing the first two weeks of the borders re-opening.
The COVID-19 situation must be looking up in Taiwan, as the self-ruled island has confirmed that it will be ending the mandatory three-day quarantine for international travellers from 13 October onwards.
And this is only the first day of Taiwan’s border reopening.
It is believed that international travellers will have a “limited impact” on Taiwan’s healthcare system as the number of COVID-19 cases detected upon arrival only take up a small fraction of Taiwan’s daily caseload.
On Wednesday (28 Sep), Taiwan’s health authorities reported 48,400 domestic cases and 192 imported cases.
Proceeding to the second stage will mean the removal of the mandatory three-day quarantine and a shift into the “0+7” policy.
While travellers no longer have to isolate themselves, they are expected to monitor their own health for seven days after arrival.
The arrival cap will be raised to 150,000 too.
The Taiwanese tourism industry sees this as a chance to make Taiwan an attractive destination again.
During the pandemic, it has been building up its domestic offerings, including sights and places outside of Taipei, which they think will be interesting for travellers.
However, one huge problem that every country has to grapple with upon reopening their borders is the staff shortage in the tourism industry.
Luxury hotel chains like Mandarin Oriental Taipei and LDC Hotels & Resorts Group own nine properties across the country, and they stated that they are doubling efforts to hire more workers.
Mandarin Oriental Taipei is keen on bringing its staffing strength back to 90% of what it used to be, since 80% of its rooms tend to be booked by international travellers.
Over the past two years, LDC Hotels has seen a 30% reduction of its housekeeping and catering staff too.
The layoffs could not be helped, since the number of tourists dropped to 140,479 in 2021 from a record 11.8 million in 2019.
Since then, those workers have moved on to other sectors for employment.
Regardless, President Tsai Ing-wen believes that Taiwan has “finally come to the final moments of the pandemic”.
Hopefully, the easing of travel restrictions will go smoothly for Taiwan.
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