In a sudden turn of events, the recent travel ban placed by the Philippine government on Taiwan has already been lifted on Friday (February 14) as announced by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
The decision was welcomed by both Filipino and Taiwanese tourism officials as it minimizes the impact of the coronavirus scare on the tourist industry.
PH Gov’t Lifts Travel Ban on Taiwan
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases decided to lift the travel restrictions effective immediately because of strict measures being undertaken by Taiwan to contain the spread of the new coronavirus or COVID-19, as shared in a report by CNN Philippines.
Just this week, the government included Taiwan in the travel ban ordered on Feb. 2 by President Rodrigo Duterte on China and its administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau to contain the spread of the virus.
On Monday (February 10), DOH Spokesperson Eric Domingo announced Taiwan was being included in the travel ban as the World Health Organization considers it a part of China. The Philippines follows a One-China policy that recognizes Beijing and limits dealings with Taiwan to economic and cultural ties.
In the same week, the Philippine government drew criticisms including from Taipei, which said it was considering countermeasures if the Philippines did not lift the ban. Taiwan is a self-governed island that China considers as its province.
According to the Department of Tourism, Taiwan is the country’s fifth-largest tourist source market, boasting a double-digit increase of 35.01 percent for its 327, 273 arrivals from January to November in 2019.
In a statement last Friday, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat said: “The lifting of the travel ban on Taiwan is highly assuring and we hope that the nCoV crisis would soon be resolved, worldwide. Ultimately, the recovery of all affected countries is a universal prayer, especially that tourism is an inclusive and sustainable business for and of the people.“
The statement also noted that the government has put in place all preventive and precautionary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. It added that the guidelines in handling guests are being implemented in hotels and resorts around the country and facilities are equipped with infrared thermometers and more hand sanitizers.
Commenting on this development, the tourism department pointed out that the tourism sector has rallied behind it to soften the impact on inbound tourism by creating a program offering “value-added tour packages, discounted accommodation rates, and marked-down prices for domestic flights.”
Furthermore, Filipino workers also appealed earlier to Duterte to lift the ban, with those in the Philippines expressing fears they would lose the jobs waiting for them in Taiwan.
In the meantime, the remaining travel ban restricts the entry of foreign nationals coming directly from China, Hong Kong, and Macau and those with travel history to those areas in the last 14 days. Filipinos and holders of permanent resident visas are allowed entry but have to undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine. Flights to the areas by local airlines have also been canceled.