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Palau option returns for Taiwan tourists

Political expediency appears to have reversed a commercial decision just days after cancelling flights from Taiwan’s national carrier to Palau.

China Airlines had previously reported that the lack of numbers of bookings throughout November that were visiting the western Pacific nation were not meeting demand.

But it is understood that the Taiwanese government was greatly concerned over appeasing one of the Republic of China’s few allies after the move of scrapping the flights drew the ire of Palauan presidents Surangel Whipps Jr.

Palau is back in business for Taiwanese travellers after cancelled flights were reversed. Picture: Shutterstock

Minister for transportation and communications Wang Kwo-tsai was told by China Airlines that only 20 bookings were taken for the month.

But after diplomatic tensions between the countries settled, six new flights to Palau immediately were rescheduled on Monday.

The ministry has assured China Airlines that the embarrassing backflip will not leave the commercial carrier out of pocket while travel agencies will be encouraged to ensure Palau is promoted better to prospective Taiwanese travellers.

Figures from a leading travel agency have established 15,000 Taiwanese travel annually to Palau, which is considered one of the Asian country’s smaller destination routes.

The unique travel bubble between one dense state of 23.5 million and another of less than 20,000 across its 340 islands appeared to have burst.

Whipps Jr had publicly said the airline’s stance was “poisoning” the fragile tourism market of Palau, sparking the diplomatic concerns from Taipei.

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But months earlier most passengers were only travelling due to the availability of Covid-19 vaccines in Palau that have only recently increased in Taiwan.

Since the reinstatement of flights, Palau’s tourism office in Taiwan announced a relaxation of all past vaccination requirements that included not having to undergo quarantine on arrival and only being able to enter for a second shot after having been vaccinated a first time elsewhere.

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