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Taiwan on South Korea's priority list for travel bubbles

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Taiwan's Tourism Bureau holds a promotional event in Seoul at the end of May. Photo courtesy of Taiwan's representative office in South Korea

Seoul, June 9 (CNA) South Korea said Wednesday it will seek to accelerate talks on quarantine-free travel bubble agreements with several countries, including Taiwan, to enable group trips for people who are fully vaccinated from as early as July.

The country is seeking travel bubble agreements with Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Guam and Saipan and will start official talks soon with these countries and territories, the South Korean government said in a statement.

According to the statement, once a travel bubble is formed, South Korea will initially allow one or two flights a week, carrying up to 200 passengers.

Under such arrangements, travelers will be required to present vaccination documents, get a PCR test upon arrival and report any symptoms they develop during the trip.

Commenting on the matter, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung, who also heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said Wednesday that if Taiwan is selected by South Korea as one of its top choices to launch a travel bubble with, then "we should adhere to their disease prevention regulations."

Considering the recent escalation of COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, travelers planning to going abroad should pay special attention to their own safety, he added.

A travel bubble is an agreement between two or more countries to allow their people to travel without strict quarantine.

Taiwan and Palau launched a travel bubble program on April 1, allowing residents of the two countries to travel largely quarantine-free, provided they follow certain protocols, such as only traveling in groups.

However, sluggish sales of tours forced tourism agencies and Taiwan's flagship carrier, China Airlines (CAL), to suspend all tours and flights to the Pacific island state amid an uptick in domestic COVID-19 infections.

As of Wednesday, the status of the arrangement is unclear.

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