"The bubble concept is indeed workable, but will remain a bubble for as long as the country’s health management is deemed unacceptable."
Australia and New Zealand will be exchanging flights to and from their countries in order to re-charge their tourism sector. The concept is to create a travel “bubble” for two countries which did well, and in the case of NZ, exceedingly well, in managing the ill effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Taiwan for its part will begin welcoming citizens coming in for mainly business purposes, as well as students enrolled in their universities. The countries in the first tier, which are considered “low-risk” because they managed their COVID-19 responses pretty well are: Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Fiji, Mongolia and Bhutan.
Citizens from these countries coming to Taiwan will only be required four-day self-quarantine after health checks at the airport. In time, even these would be ruled out as the pandemic remains controlled in the island. * * * Our tourism secretary announced last week the possibility of creating a similar travel bubble between some island destinations in the Philippines, such as Bohol, Boracay and possibly some parts of Palawan. The incidence of COVID contagion in these islands have been few and far between. Bohol has a new Panglao International Airport and so does Boracay, both from Caticlan and Kalibo, capable of accepting charter flights. The bubble concept is indeed workable, but will remain a bubble for as long as the country’s health management is deemed unacceptable, not only by governments elsewhere in the world, but by their citizens as well who keep tab of the numbers that keep rising. * * * In Taiwan however, domestic tourism has considerably perked up. And I have seen more and more people, especially the young, do away with the ubiquitous utilization of face masks wherever they go. Last Thursday, the beginning of the four-day Dragon Boat holiday in celebration of the change of seasons from spring to summer, I went to Ruifang in New Taipei City, where we went up to a relatively low but steep 100 meter climb, through some 5 kilometers to reach a peak from whence one gets a majestic view of the Pacific Ocean. Domestic tourism seems to have been re-energized. Even the remote Green Island in Taitung received thousands of visitors that kept dozens of ferries busy the whole long week-end. Ruifang in New Taipei City is just less than a leisurely 40-minute drive from downtown Taipei City, where one could climb its low but very well-maintained mountains, and swim and snorkel in the clear waters of the currently calm sea. And later gorge on excellent locally-produced seafood, such as lobsters, crabs, abalone and groupers. At very affordable prices, I might add. * * * The key to the workability of the travel bubbles, as well as enhancing domestic tourism is safety and security, especially peace of mind on questions of health. So Sec. Berna’s hopes are really a function of how long it will take the country to reverse the current trends of health mismanagement. One is relieved to know that Sec. Cimatu has been charged to take over the pandemic management in Cebu City as earlier requested by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas from the President, who is himself considered a Cebuano, his father having been a Mindanao migrant from Danao.