Palau welcomes tourists, Cook Is still waiting

Quarantine free trouble has begun between Palau and Taiwan with the arrival of Palau’s first inbound tourism flight since March last year.

Palau’s President, Surangel Whipps, Jr. returned to Palau from Taiwan on the flight, marking the event with the ceremonial signing of the Palau Pledge: the country’s official passport stamp that all visitors must sign on arrival, promising to preserve Palau’s environment and respect its culture for the sake of the next generation.

 “I’m very happy this day has finally come,” President Whipps said on arriving home. “This is the first sterile travel corridor in the world between two COVID-free / COVID-safe countries, and I’m very proud of the work Palau and Taiwan have done to get us here. Taiwan is the perfect partner for this safe travel corridor. Not only because of their success in combating COVID-19, but also because Taiwanese travellers treat Palau’s people, environment, and culture with respect when they visit. Our two nations trust each other – hence why we are able to have zero-quarantine at both borders.”

Palau has recorded no cases of COVID-19, and over 65% of Palau’s adult population is now vaccinated against COVID-19.

Meanwhile Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown says they are ready to welcome New Zealand visitors from May 1st.

He was in New Zealand last week to meet his counterpart Jacinda Ardern and other key people critical to the travel plan.

“Facilitating travel of New Zealanders to the Cook Islands will be the difference to arresting an exodus of working-age Cook Islanders and their families to New Zealand,” Brown said.

PM Brown also said access to grant aid, lower-interest funding and added capital loan funding, “will help to keep Cook Islanders in the Cook Islands rather than adding to the NZ-Cook Islands diaspora.”

Meanwhile New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce when quarantine-free travel can resume with Australia this afternoon.