Half of year ago, everyone could simply book a trip to elsewhere all over the world with just a click. But today, we are dealing with a totally different reality. Unexpected lock-downs, all countries’ travel restrictions and bankruptcy of stores in all walks of life, the virus has brought fear and uncertainty to this world.
However, “Revenge outing” is going viral in Taiwan, where the COVID-19 outbreak has been contained under 450 confirmed cases since the first case reported in January. After holding back from travel at home for months, Taiwanese have turned to domestic travel and outdoor activities. (Read more: Call For Explorer! Explore Taiwan with expats – Taiwan domestic travel kick-start)
Date back to August last year (2019), the Executive Yuan has already undertaken a NT$3.6 billion subsidy plan for the tourism as a countermeasure to China’s travel ban on Taiwan several months right before Taiwan’s presidential election. (Read more: CNN: Beijing bans solo tourists from heading to Taiwan amid rising cross-strait tensions & Bloomberg: China Imposes Taiwan Travel Ban in Warning Shot to President)
Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan established “Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens” on Feb 25, 2020. To effectively prevent and control severe pneumonia with novel pathogens (COVID-19), protect the health of the people, and mitigate the impact of the disease on the domestic economy and society. Up to NT$60 billion (US$1.97 billion) will be allocated under a special act to provide relief to all affected industries.
The First Stage
On Feb 26, 2020, both the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced a series of measure such as a 120-hour training subsidy come with NT$18,960 (US$631), to help employers hit hard by the outbreak and who works in travel industry. More statements including alms one-time payment of NT$30,000 (US$1000) for 1 million self-employed workers and 10,000 part-time job opportunities would be released as well.
Meanwhile, the ministry has also budgeted NT$4.863 billion to help the nation’s airlines, which have been obliged to cancel or suspend flights due to the government’s disease-prevention policy and a decline in passengers.
On March, 2020, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced that all registered taxi vehicles in the country will receive monthly subsidies of NT$2,000 (US$66) for gas, starting April 1. Taxi and tourist coach drivers around the nation eligible for a monthly wage subsidy of NT$30,000 (US$1,000) additionally.
The Second Stage
After “relieving”, now is “boosting”. To revitalize the economy, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has rolled out a NT$3.9 billion (US$130 million) by offering subsidies to domestic Taiwan travelers from today (July 1, 2020) as part of a stimulus package since COVID-19 outbreak eases. (Read more: Holiday already boosting nation’s tourism industry) From July 1 to October 31, Taiwanese citizens travelling within Taiwan can benefit from all kinds of discount and subside.
Independent travelers will receive a one-time NT$1,000 or NT$2,000 for their hotel stays, depending on whether they are travelling within Taiwan or its offshore islands. For groups of at least 10 people on two-day or longer tours, each one in this group will get NT$700 and the total capped is NT$30,000. The capped raises to NT$70,000 for group more than 15 people and travelling at least three days or more. Furthermore, the government will offer NT$1,200 per person if the groups are going to the offshore cities such as Kinmen, Lienchiang and Penghu, up to a maximum of NT$70,000 per group.
A maximum subsidy of NT$10 million will also be given to each city and county governments to aid with planning its distinguishing Taiwan itineraries and launching local Taiwan tourism campaigns. Taiwan Tour Bus passengers can enjoy a 2 for 1 concession on half day or one day tour. Citizens under 19 year old (born on or after July 1, 2001) have unlimited free admission to amusement parks (includes: Yehliu Ocean World, Window on China Theme Park, Leofoo Village Theme Park, Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village, Janfusun Fancyworld, E-DA Theme Park and so on) during summer vacation (July 1 and August 31).
The measures include the “Triple Stimulus Voucher” program to be launched July 15, which will allow people to buy NT$3,000 (US$100) worth of shopping vouchers for NT$1,000 excluding most forms of online shopping, which has been less impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Read more: Stimulus vouchers can be used for online ticket purchases: Cabinet) The pre-orders of the vouchers, beginning July 1 and can be done at 7-11, FamilyMart, Hi-Life and OK mart. The vouchers will be assigned directly to all post offices on July 15. (Read more: What Can Taiwan Post Office Do for me?)
Only Taiwanese, spouses of Taiwanese, holders of a permanent resident certificate (not Alien Permanent Residence Certificate), and those in the process of applying for Taiwanese citizenship are eligible for the vouchers. Foreign spouses can use their National Health Insurance (NHI) cards or Alien Residence Certificates (ARC) as identification when purchasing the coupons.
The Ministry of Culture issue “culture stimulus vouchers” worth NT$1.2 billion (US$40.49 million) to stimulate the arts and culture industries, which have been struck by the COVID-19 pandemic as well. The voucher is denomination of NT$600 and independent from “Triple Stimulus Voucher”, will be valid from July 22 to the end of this year. Culture and exhibition halls, concert halls, bookstores and record stores, movie theaters, and other cultural and art events as well as for purchases at over 10,000 culture-related stores and venues, are the ways of applying vouchers.
The Third Stage
Taiwan’s border is estimated to be open conditionally in November. Therefore, the third stage of travel subsidies will only be available until the arrival of international tourists. (Read more: Taiwan to ease virus border controls to let in some business people) Both Taiwan inbound and outbound travel agency which customers are from aboard and failed to turned to domestic will be the target during this stage.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, Taiwan’s government has played its part (Read more: Taiwan’s Weapon Against Coronavirus: An Epidemiologist as Vice President).
From emailing World Health Organization asking for more information when they heard about a mysterious pneumonia in Wuhan, China on Dec. 31, 2019 (Read more: TIME: Taiwan Says It Tried to Warn the World About Coronavirus. Here’s What It Really Knew and When), banning on surgical mask exports to keep citizens sufficient for their daily needs (Read more: Coronavirus outbreak: Don’t blame Taiwan for export ban on face masks), to the three stages of rescuing Taiwan’s economy (Read more: Taiwan faces a changed economic out look in Asia following COVID-19).
Taiwan is proudly to say to the world “Taiwan Can Help”. Taiwan is now helping the world, and helping itself.