CORONAVIRUS/HK visitors eye eateries, night markets as independent travel reopens

Some Hong Kong citizens who arrived in Taiwan Monday as the first independent travelers to visit the country in three years identified Taiwanese night markets and popular eateries as what they missed the most since the imposition of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

"It's been a long time since I had Taiwanese braised pork rice," a woman identified by her last name Tang (?), who last visited the country three years ago, said on arriving at Taoyuan International Airport in the morning.

Tang was among the 147 passengers onboard Cathay Pacific flight CX-488 from Hong Kong that consisted mainly of transit travelers from Canada and Indonesia to Taiwan.

Tang said she plans to visit Raohe night market in Taipei during her two days off from work, noting that due to the short stay her trip will focus solely on food.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) announced on Feb. 14 that Taiwan would remove all border restrictions imposed on Hong Kong and Macau residents during the COVID-19 period effective Feb. 20.

The change in policy enables residents of the two territories to apply to visit Taiwan for tourism on their own instead of with a tour group for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020.

Taiwan started to allow tour groups from Hong Kong and Macau to apply to enter the country in November 2022 as COVID-19 eased, but independent tourists were still barred from entry.

A male passenger surnamed Yip (?) who also arrived on the Cathay Pacific flight, said he will be in Taiwan three days for business as well as to visit some friends.

Yip was extremely positive about the lifting of restrictions, saying it will allow more people to come and visit the country, adding that visiting local eateries is also on his agenda.

Another woman passenger, surnamed Tam (?), added that after graduating from National Taiwan Sport University in June 2019 and returning to Hong Kong that year, she has not been able to return as an independent tourist since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tam said she plans to visit some of her friends and teachers in Taiwan, visit Taipei 101 and tour the night markets.

Meanwhile in Kaohsiung, Cathay Pacific flight CX-432 arriving from Hong Kong on Monday morning also brought several travelers from the territory and Macau.

They all said visiting Taiwan as an independent tourist is the way to go.

The flight, which saw mainly Taiwanese returning from Hong Kong and some transit passengers, touched down at Kaohsiung International Airport at 10:15 a.m.

"When coming to Taiwan, it is more fun if you can travel on your own!" a male passenger said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel