Palau-Taiwan travel bubble bursts; CAL cancels flight due to low demand

The much-ballyhooed travel bubble between Palau and Taiwan fell flat this week when China Airlines decided to cancel its weekend flight to Koror due to low demand.

The China News Agency (CNA) reported that only two people booked for the April 17 group tour despite CAL's move to slash the airfare for the travel bubble flights to Palau. CAL is one of Taiwan's major international carriers.

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. earlier acknowledged that $3,000 might be too exorbitant to entice Taiwanese travelers to catch the sun in the Pacific island nation.

The Asia-Pacific's first travel bubble, otherwise known as "sterile corridor," debuted on April 1. The Taiwan media reported that the maiden flight carried 123 passengers, 23 of whom were members of a diplomatic delegation from Palau.

With an initial one-flight a week frequency, the travel arrangement between the two allied nations was touted to mutually jumpstart their tourism industries thumped down by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Quoting Hsiao Po-jen, head of the Travel Agent Association of the Republic of China, CNA attributed the low demand to the stringent travel rules imposed by Taiwan on returning travelers.