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Taiwan and Palau launch the first travel bubble in Asia

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Taiwan and Palau launch the first travel bubble in Asia | Thaiger
SOURCE: Wikimedia - Some of Palau's 500 islands

The island nations of Taiwan and Palau have created Asia’s first travel bubble yesterday, allowing citizens of the two countries to fly back and forth without quarantine. After a year of Covid-19 blocking the majority of global travel, this bubble is a promising first step in the new normal of international tourism.

Palau, the tiny Micronesian archipelago of 500 islands dotting the western Pacific Ocean, calls it a “sterile corridor” connecting the two countries. China Airlines, the Taiwanese carrier, flew the 4-hour journey between Taipei airport and Palau’s main airport yesterday afternoon.

To maintain a successful Taiwan-Palau travel bubble, passengers arrived over 5 hours early to receive Covid-19 testing, allowing results to be received an hour before take-off. Tight restrictions are being followed, including mandatory mask-wearing, despite extremely low infections during the pandemic. Palau, with a population of about 18,000 people, managed to ride out coronavirus completely unscathed, without a single infection. Taiwan suffered just 10 deaths amongst the 1,022 total infections within their borders.

If successful, Taiwan plans on attempting a similar travel bubble with Guam next. Thailand had been eyeing the travel bubble concept between several countries including China in the past month.

Once travellers arrive in Palau, they are required to join one of 6 tour groups sanctioned by the government following specific itineraries strictly. The tours will stay in endorsed hotels and visit approved attractions only. Tours include snorkelling the Japanese shipwreck at Lake Yamanaka, stopping at the world’s smallest national park Chang Causeway Park, visiting the famed “jellyfish lake”, a mud bath in Milky Lake’s famously beautifying mud, kayaking, and afternoon tea. These tours sell for about 82,000 baht for 4 days or 104,000 baht for a 5-day package.

While this travel bubble scheme between Taiwan and Palau offers new hope for post-pandemic tourism returning soon and is mostly viewed as positive, there are some potentially controversial connotations in the launch. The Chinese government considers Taiwan to be a self-governed territory still owned by China, thus limiting Taiwan’s ability to enact an international policy like a travel bubble. Palau is one of only 15 nations that officially recognise and have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

SOURCE: CNN

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    Roger Bruce

    Friday, April 2, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    Thailand want a travel bubble with China, of course, they do ( Thailand Gov to lick the rear end of Chinese Gov at all times ) I say this nicely do not delete it

    Possibly 150,000 baht for a 5 days tour

    No charge for importing more Virus

    Good Luck Thailand

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Transport Ministry: refunds to cancel travel for Covid-19

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Transport Ministry: refunds to cancel travel for Covid-19 | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Travellers can cancel travel and be refunded due to Covid-19

The Transport Ministry is launching plans to deal with forced cancellations of travel plans due to the most recent Covid-19 outbreak. With recent restrictions on entertainment venues, Songkran festivities, and some areas implementing quarantines for domestic travel, many holiday travellers will likely have no choice but to cancel their plans. The Transport Ministry has declared that all passengers by bus or train scheduled to travel between April 9 and 18 can receive a full refund on cancelled trips. They hope to help control the spreading of the Covid-19 outbreak by giving people the easier option to cancel travel over the Songkran holiday.

The State Railway of Thailand will refund tickets but advise people to cancel their trips at least 24 hours before the original scheduled travel. They also said that any tickets bought using both cash and state welfare card benefits will only receive a refund on the cash portion of the ticket. Special tickets bought as part of a group guided tour or on a chartered train trip will also be fully refundable if cancelled 1 day in advance. The SRT did say exceptions would be made to allow cancellation only 1 hour before departure if the departure or arrival location is declared a strict or maximum control zone.

Online reservations are asked to send an email to passenger-ser@railway.co.th with your e-tickets and a refund request.

For those who decide to keep their holiday plans and not cancel travel, the SRT is strongly advising all passengers to wear face masks at all times and adhere to social distancing protocol. The Thai Chana system will be used for checking in and out and travellers are being asked to notify staff in the station if they see anyone with flu-like symptoms, or if they experience any symptoms themselves.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Airlines and hotels try to cope with cancellations for Songkran

Tim Newton

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Airlines and hotels try to cope with cancellations for Songkran | Thaiger

Airlines and hotels are reporting cancellations from many of their customers as travellers react to the news of the new clusters and infections being detected in the provinces. Bars and entertainment venues close for 2 weeks in 44 provinces from midnight tonight, according to an order from the Thai PM. Entertainment venues in the other 35 provinces will remain open at the discretion of their provincial officials.

The Thai government has also announced today a series of measures to assist with refunds for people that have cancelled, or been forced to cancel, their bookings.

Thai VietJet asked us to publish their arrangements due to the queries from their customers. We will publish any other announcements from airlines and large organisations as they come to hand…

Due to the Covid-19 escalation in Thailand, the airline announces its policy to support passengers holding Thai Vietjet tickets on all domestic routes.

For passengers who booked tickets and made payments before 10 April 2021 with travel date between 12 -30 April 2021, may choose 1 of the supports as following:

  1. One-time changing the travel date free of charge. New travel date must be by July 31, 2021 and subject to flight availability. Rerouting is not applicable.
  2. Keeping the value of the ticket as a Credit Voucher, which is valid within July 31, 2021.

Passengers who have travel dates fall into the above-mentioned period and wish to contact the airline for support regarding change of flight or credit shell by voucher (at least 72 hours before the original departure time), please choose 1 of the options below:

  1. By E-Form: https://bit.ly/2L6Yv4z (Recommended Channel)
  2. By Line: @Thaivietjet
  3. By email: vz.support@vietjetair.com
  4. By Live Chat at https://skyfun.vietjetair.com/

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